November 20, 2006

EU "terror tax" on businesses?

I blogged before (here and here) about the proposal for an EU scheme of so called "secure operators". There has been an update in The Times.
Business leaders have warned that draft legislation on supply-chain security — currently in the pipeline in Brussels — could cost between £2,000 a year for micro businesses and £91,400 for medium-sized businesses ....

The new standard would require increased surveillance and new vetting procedures for millions of lorry drivers and warehouse staff.
Doubtless it will achieve less than it costs. So what would it cost?
An independent impact study released by the Norwegian consultancy DNV in October puts the total cost of a mandatory scheme in Britain at £215m for the initial audit and £92m annually.

A separate EC study puts the annual cost burden of a voluntary scheme for EU countries at £60m, which it suggests could be paid for by industry at an average cost of £426 per company.

Smaller firms fear they will bear the brunt of the new measures. Of the 4.75m companies that will be affected by the proposal, 4.73m are small and medium-sized businesses.
UK MEPs are opposing the proposal, but the European Commission said it was standing by it. “We want one system instead of 25 different ones,” it said.

Well that's tidy, but what benefits would there be to set against the costs - including enforcement? In the UK the Federation of Small Business says
“This is an example of how not to regulate. Small businesses would have to invest in surveillance equipment, extra security measures and even new premises as well as vetting all staff. In short, this proposal is unworkable in the real world.”
This, remember, is from the Commission which lies that it favours less regulation. There is no hope for a less regulated EU. None.

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