UK health and safety and environment professionals have given the EU the thumbs-up when it comes to the impact it is having on legislation, according to a new survey by specialists Cedrec.

The news comes ahead of this week's European elections (22 May) and shows that despite misgivings by many, environment and safety professionals generally feel the EU is having a positive impact on boosting the quality of health and safety and environmental legislation.

Cedrec, which specialises in providing advice in understanding, interpreting and complying with environmental and safety legislation, completed the survey to gauge popular perceptions about the EU.

Although generally positive about the EU, the survey did reveal that the majority of environment and safety professionals were content with current levels of legislation and did not want to see anymore EU legislation – some would even welcome a reduction in current levels.

More than three fifths (68%) of those surveyed believed that the EU was helping to improve the environment while a quarter (25%) felt it was making things worse. Seven per cent of those questioned thought it was making no difference.  

When it came to safety, more than half (54%) of those surveyed believed that the EU was having a positive impact on making workplaces safer while 12% thought that it was making no difference at all and those who felt it was having a negative effect was only a third (34%).

Cedrec's survey revealed that there's a reluctance to see the introduction of further environment and safety legislation – only 3% said they would welcome more with over a half (54%) of respondents keen to see a reduction in legislation. Forty three per cent thought the current amount of EU legislation was right.

The overwhelming amount of those who participated in the survey thought the UK should take the EU elections seriously and will be voting on Thursday, with the majority considering the EU elections as important as the UK elections.

Cedrec Director Gareth Billinghurst echoed the responses from the survey, and stressed the importance of the UK having a strong presence within the EU.

He is however aware of the image being portrayed of the EU's role in legislation, and added: “The concerns I have with these elections are that they are being hijacked by various fringe political parties that have no intention of working with or within Europe, or working with Europe for the greater good of Great Britain.

“The majority of our health and safety and environmental legislation has its roots in Europe so as we are part of the EU, we need to ensure Europe works for us and take the lead when and where we can. Our votes in this election are key to this.

“A national general election is the only platform where we should be considering anti-European or protest votes. Raising such concerns at an election for MEPs to represent the UK in the European Parliament are misguided, badly timed and just weaken our voice. We need to take this election seriously.”