The European Council is today expected to give the green light to Europe's first serious attempt to reduce bureaucracy, according to the Daily Telegraph .
The European Commission believes the plan to cut unnecessary European red tape by 25% by 2012 would save business at least €150bn (£102bn) a year.
The exercise will be driven by the commission's vice president Gunter Verheugen, who is in charge of enterprise and industry.
He has already set out 13 priority areas for reform, including changes to company and tax law and the rules on pharmaceuticals, food safety and transport.
The British Chambers of Commerce welcomed the initiative as it said EU legislation was an "enormous burden on UK business", says the paper.
It estimated almost three quarters of the £55.6bn in red tape introduced in Britain since 1998 originated from Brussels.
AEGON UK has crashed through the £1bn new business sales barrier for the first time, reports the Scotsman.
The company said strong pensions activity after last year's government reforms aimed at shoring up the sector, together with success from its diversification strategy, helped it through the milestone.
Based on the industry measure of annual premiums plus 10% of single premiums, sales increased by 54% to £1.06bn in the year to 31 December, from £687m a year ago.
Chief executive Otto Thoresen said he had worked out the firm took in £30m of investments every working day last year, calling the performance "remarkable".
The final quarter also produced record-breaking new-business figures, with the group taking in £288m, a rise of 52% over the same period in 2005, and beating the £282m taken in the second quarter of 2006.
The value of new business – reflecting the profits gained on sales – increased by 85% to £124m.
THREE INTEREST rate rises since August have cooled the housing market sufficiently to rein in runaway house price inflation, but the rate of increases in house prices still remains too high for comfort, the latest Financial Times house price index shows.
Prices in London continue to rise much faster than other regions, although large variations within the capital show the really rapid gains are limited to the most salubrious districts, where demand is boosted by City bonuses and international buyers.
With house price inflation remaining higher than wage inflation, the Bank of England considers the market remains unsustainably strong and unless price rises moderate, pressure will intensify on the Monetary Policy Committee to tighten the screw still further on borrowers.
The annual rate of house price inflation was 7.6% in February, according to the FT house price index, a rate of increase that has remained almost constant since September last year, when it climbed to 7.3%.
AND THE US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched an astonishing attack on the City’s regulatory standards yesterday, just weeks after an American bidder failed in its quest to buy the London Stock Exchange, says the Times.
Roel Campos, an SEC commissioner, likened London’s junior AIM market to a casino, challenging frequent assurances by Nasdaq that LSE regulations would be “ring-fenced” in the event of a takeover by the New York exchange.
“I’m concerned that 30% of issuers that list on AIM are gone in a year. That feels like a casino to me,” Campos said. “It is a losing proposition to tout lower standards as a way to promote your markets.”
As the competition to be the world’s leading financial centre hots up between London and New York, Campos upped the ante by suggesting the LSE would also suffer as a result of the lax regulation of AIM. “There’s also a danger with higher standards; if it’s too affiliated with an exchange that has lower standards, it gets painted with the same brush.”
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