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Lord Tope tackles goldplating EU Laws

June 6, 2013 11:33 AM
By Sean O'Curneen in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

"Goldplating" - the practice whereby national governments add on extra regulation to the law emanating from the EU - is what often leads citizens to believe that the European Union "over-regulates". Whilst there may be cases of such excessive regulation from Union bodies, such as the recent proposal to ban certain types of olive oil jugs, which has been thankfully withdrawn, the fact is that much of the over-regulation happens when the European law is being processed at national level. Unfortunately, Westminster has not been immune to the "goldplating bug."

For this reason, Lord Tope, member of the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives (CoR) in his capacity as member of the London Borough of Sutton, has called for an EU-wide standard definition of goldplating. In this way, national governments would have legal certainty in the implementation and application of EU law. The standard definition would also allow for comparative analyses between Member States and for a means to judge the claims of those who assert that they do not goldplate.

Graham Tope, whose proposals were part of his work as author of the CoR report on EU Regulatory Fitness, proposed that 'goldplating' should be defined as:

  • adding requirements to those already in the EU law or making the law more complex;
  • extending the scope of the law beyond what the EU intended;
  • not taking advantage of opportunities to opt-out of certain clauses of the European law;
  • keeping national requirements which go beyond what is required by the EU law;
  • introducing national regulatory requirements, which fall outside of the aim of the European law;
  • deciding an earlier entry into force of the law than that agreed at European level;
  • stricter sanctions than stipulated by the EU;

The report, which received the backing of the CoR plenary on 30 May, acknowledges that goldplating is not - and should not be - prohibited by EU law. In some cases it may be justified that national or subnational legislation provides for a higher level of protection, such as for environmental protection; the protection of workers; the quality and safety standards related to human organs, blood and blood derivatives; and consumer protection.

Nevertheless, Lord Tope recommends that such additional measures should be specifically justified, and must avoid increasing the complexity and cost of new laws on local and regional authorities, business and the general public. For a full copy of the report, please contact alde@cor.europa.eu .

* Sean O'Curneen is the Secretary General of the Alliance of Liberal Democrats for Europe Committee of the Regions