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The Directive acknowledges that, without an international agreement to adopt ARR, encompassing non-EU states, the EU’s markets will be placed at a disadvantage.

The intention was that international negotiations should persuade all major non-EU markets to sign up to the ARR before it had a chance to affect EU markets negatively.

Even now, however, the three largest markets outside the UK – the US, Switzerland and China – have no intention of adopting ARR.

Perhaps even more critical has been the EC’s failure to carry out its compulsory impact study, which Article 11 of the Directive obliged it to do by January 1, 2009.

Lord Brooke raised the spectre of the UK taking the EC to the European Court over the matter – something he has successfully done in the past as a government minister.

Mr Browne was equally damning of the EC’s “terrifying complacency”.

In what he called its current “climate of madness”, he warned: “We are going to get nowhere unless the EC carries out its impact study.”

He is hopeful of British Government support in putting pressure on Brussels, however, and has already had encouraging talks with relevant ministers.