While Johnson has said he wants to shave a billion pounds off old EU bureaucracy, the goal is overshadowed by the pile of regulations the country has added in recent years. The case of Jones is an example.
Victoria Hewson, from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), said acceptance of CE marked products would show that Britain is serious about supporting businesses and customers: “The UK has the opportunity to lead the world with a radical trade policy of recognition of regulations, without requiring reciprocity, starting with the EU.
A BEIS spokesperson said: “Having our own regulatory regime gives us the ability to ensure that our product regulations work in the best interest of UK consumers and businesses.”
Labeling is just one element in a mountain of regulations – and quantification is proving difficult.
The cost it creates for the UK economy could be as high as £220bn, according to a 2020 study by the IEA. His estimate is extrapolated from an official 2005 gauge that puts the burden at around 10-12% of GDP and does not take into account the benefits of the rules, indicating how difficult it is to measure accurately.
There are clearly opportunities to cut. Last year the Prime Minister appointed former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith to chair the Task Force on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform to develop a plan to reduce regulation. Think tanks have produced tons of rules that could usefully be deleted.
City could be freed from overly strict MiFID II rules that hurt analyst research; The Solvency II laws which curb investments by forcing insurers to hold huge sums of money on their balance sheets; and ineffective bank bonus caps.
In technology, the long reach of GDPR data rules could be pruned. Pharmaceutical regulation may be reduced as the UK strives to become a global life sciences hub. More climate-friendly and nutritious food could be grown by easing EU constraints on gene editing and boosting innovation, revamping the Novel Foods Act to help start-ups, such as those of meatless products.
Yet despite the opportunity and intermittent enthusiasm, those who support the reforms say progress has been painfully slow.
“Government has been doing absolutely sweet FA since we gave them the report [in June 2021]says Sir Iain, lamenting that Lord Frost was given too little authority to make progress when he was in government.
“They should have continued, and they still haven’t done a single element of deregulation since I produced the report.”
His attempt is by no means the first.
Tony Blair created the Better Regulation Task Force in 1997, the Small Business Service in 2000 and the Better Regulation Commission in 2006, which said it was “time to reverse the course” of the bureaucracy.