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The EU must offer more than warm words to address the deep concerns of small businesses over Brussels red tape, Conservative MEPs have cautioned.

The warning came as the EU Commission published a "top ten" list of EU regulations which cause the greatest problems for SMEs. The list was drawn from a Europe-wide consultation process begun in December last year -  which several Conservative MEPs urged their local businesses to take part in.

Predictably, the list includes unwanted social legislation such as the Working Time Directive and labour-market regulation, as well as rules on data protection, public procurement and professional qualifications.

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, said: "Conservative MEPs who are constantly hearing the concerns of small businesses could have written this list for them before the consultation began.

"Now Commissioners have been sent a direct message and they must offer more than warm words in response.

"They have at least had the courage to go directly to SMEs and ask the tough questions about their concerns. Now they must show they can pay heed to the tough answers.

"They have been sent a cry for help. If they are serious about unleashing the economic power of entrepreneurs and smaller traders they must now work with them to reduce this regulatory burden.

"What small businesses really want is for the bureaucrats to get out of their way and let them get on with what they do best - driving enterprise, launching fresh ideas and creating jobs."

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