The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has welcomed the publication of a report by the Institute of Directors which accuses the European Commission of dragging its feet on its commitment to cut red tape.
The CLA says that the report confirms the experiences of its own members, yet it should not ignore the bureaucracy created by our own Government which combines with European regulations to stifle enterprise, particularly in rural areas.
The IOD's study found that it takes 18 days to start a business in the UK, compared with 4 days in Denmark, 11 in the Netherlands and just 2 in Australia. It also says that the Commission had fallen far short of measures set out in its better regulation action plan, launched in June 2002, to deal with what had been identified as one of the greatest concerns among European businesses.
Douglas Chalmers, CLA Regional Director North comments: "European legislation is much ridiculed. Yet, as the report identifies, if 40% of red tape originates in Brussels, then 60% must be originated by our own Government.
"If Government is serious in its push for rural regeneration, it must look critically at the burden it places on our businesses. Whether they are farmers who farm, farmers who are trying to diversify, or non-agricultural endeavours, their ability to create and develop economic activity is being stifled by bureaucracy.
"Very often, these small businesses, on which the future of the countryside depends have to divert scarce and valuable resources away from productive activity, simply for the sake of ticking boxes.
"If we want to attract new business ventures into the countryside, then we must remove the barriers, with red tape being at the top of the list as it is strangling both new and existing businesses."