By Martin Banks - 7th April 2010
Our research clearly shows that it's far more cost-effective to regulate domestically than is it is to legislate through the EU
A eurosceptic think tank says that EU regulation has cost the UK economy €199bn since 1998.
London-based Open Europe says this is roughly equivalent to the country's entire budget deficit.
Of this amount, it says €140bn, around 70 per cent, had its origin in EU legislation.
The group says the data is based on over 2300 of the UK government's own impact assessments.
It is contained in what Open Europe says is the most comprehensive study to date on the cost of regulation to the UK economy.
The report says, "While the UK government and the EU have taken positive steps to make the laws they pass less burdensome, the cost of regulation to the private and public sector keeps on going up every year.
"Since the UK government launched its 'Better Regulation Agenda' in 2005, the annual cost of regulation has doubled.
"This is in no small part due to a failure to stem the flow of new, costly EU regulations.
"We estimate the benefit/cost ratio of EU regulations at 1.02, while the ratio of UK regulations is 2.35.
"In other words, for every €1.13 of cost, EU regulations introduced since 1998 have only delivered €1.35 of benefits, meaning that it is 2.5 times more cost effective to regulate nationally than it is to regulate via the EU."
Open Europe research analyst Sarah Gaskell added, "This data shows the massive influence the EU has over our economy and everyday life.
"Whether we think this is a good or a bad thing, politicians can no longer be in denial over the extent of this influence and must dedicate much more attention to the EU in the run up to the general election."
"Our research clearly shows that it's far more cost-effective to regulate domestically than is it is to legislate through the EU.
"This means that passing laws as close as possible to the citizen is not only more democratic, but also vastly cheaper. The next UK government must take a radical new approach to cutting down on the many, and often unnecessarily costly laws coming from the EU."
She went on, "Fewer and better regulations would give Europe a massive economic boost, at a time when it is facing high unemployment, low growth and a declining share in world trade."