EU promises to cut back on red tape

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Media captionBarroso: "We need this change...Europe should not meddle on all matters"

The European Commission has published proposals to simplify EU rules and "make them less burdensome".

It says it wants, for instance, to replace 37 acts of animal health regulation with a single law, and standardise VAT (sales tax) forms.

The idea is to ease the burden on businesses, and respond to public concerns about excessive red tape, says the BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels.

The Commission president said the EU should "not meddle on small matters".

"Not everything that is good is good at European level," said Jose Manuel Barroso in a statement.

"Let's think twice whether, when and where we need to act at European level," he said, calling the Commission proposals "the most comprehensive exercise to date to make EU law lighter and simpler".

The Commission noted that it had already removed some of its regulations including, for instance, a notorious ban on bendy cucumbers.

It said it would simplify some existing rules and withdraw proposals for others, including a ban on hairdressers wearing high heels.

The EU is responding to a political trend, our correspondent says, at a time when the British government wants a new relationship with the EU, and three quarters of all EU citizens think there is too much red tape.

Mr Barroso said last month that the EU should be "big on the big things and smaller on small things".

But the proposals focus on a specific list of legislation where Europe can do less, our correspondent says.

It is certainly not a proposal to return whole swathes of policy to national control, he adds.

As such, it is a long way from the kind of measures that would satisfy large parts of the UK Conservative Party, as Prime Minister David Cameron seeks to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU ahead of a referendum on Britain's membership.

Image caption Hairdressers have been given a reprieve

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