Red Tape?

A major misrepresentation of the EU is that there is too much regulation or red tape. Excessive regulation must of course be avoided but the idea that Scottish businesses suffer from excessive EU regulation, or ‘red–tape’, is inaccurate.


Regulation is essential if a common market is to function and workers are to be protected. Determining weights and measures remains one of the oldest roles that a government can carry out and the world’s largest economic bloc needs a set of common standards.  EU regulations, for the most part, reduce intrusive regulation through a process of Europe-wide standardisation.

How can this be the case?  Largely because many of the laws passed at an EU level would be passed at member state level if they weren’t dealt with in Brussels.  At their most basic, they make goods and services safe, something we in Scotland would want to do anyway. 

One particularly successful example is the regulation of refrigerators.[1] Although often mocked in the press, the production of these regulations has led to the creation of products that have saved Scottish consumers money and reduced Scotland’s use of energy.  The EU has also taken action to ban dangerous chemicals in the production of consumer products, notably the Toy Safety Directive of 2009 which banned the use of carcinogens, mutagens and allergens in accessible toys parts.[2]

EU regulation has had a positive impact on all our lives.  Being able to shop freely in other EU member states without customs is a massive benefit.  Common regulations are what makes this possible.  Scottish consumers and firms not only benefit from these, but also rely upon the stability they provide to export across Europe.

By making such decisions at an EU level, companies only need to look at one set of regulations, not 28 different ones. 

The UK has the second least regulated product market in the developed world according to the OECD.[3] The lowest is the Netherlands and, since both countries are EU members, it clearly isn’t the EU that is the cause of excessive regulation but the individual choice of the Member State Government. 

Did you know?

Research has shown that the EU has some of the lowest barriers and greatest supply chain integration of any trading bloc currently in existence.[4]