Britain and France in pre-EU summit spat over regulations curb


Paris has warned that reforms of EU social and employment legislation, encouraged by London, went too far in dismantling social protections.

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Britain and France clashed on Wednesday over Brussels’ efforts to cut back on excessive regulations, with Paris warning on the eve of an EU summit that the push risked going too far in dismantling European social protections, reports The Financial Times.

David Cameron, the UK prime minister, is urging more aggressive action and is travelling to Brussels with members of his “business task force” to lobby European leaders on the need to curb EU social and employment legislation.

Downing Street said Mr Cameron’s business team would brief Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, and five other economically liberal leaders on Friday morning; François Hollande, France’s Socialist president, was among those not invited.

Plans by José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, to streamline EU regulations were expected to be only a small part of the two-day EU summit that starts on Thursday.

But diplomats said it could become a significant point of conflict after Britain and France circulated position papers that appeared to many as in direct confrontation.

The three-page French contribution, dated October 14 but circulated to national delegation only on Tuesday night, warned the “quantitative approach” to reducing regulations was misguided and could weaken EU protections that Paris regards as critical.

“Simplification should be implemented by guaranteeing that the level of requirements in key areas such as consumer and worker protection and environment protection will not be diminished,” said the French paper, obtained by the Financial Times.

Read more of this report from The Financial Times.

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