The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) also urged Boris Johnson to use the opportunity of Brexit to bring about “meaningful change” to the “regulatory state”.
The IEA warns that EU laws are being transposed “en masse” into UK law as part of the Brexit process and that regulators are reluctant to reforms.
The think tank is planning to publish detailed studies of individual regulators, such as the Information Commissioner and the data watchdog, and identify red tape that could be cut.
An initial paper by Victoria Hewson, the think tank’s head of regulatory affairs, warns that regulations are being judged on their “intentions” rather than their results, and that the rule of law risks being “undermined” by “weak mechanisms” to hold regulators to account.
Ms Hewson claims official cost benefit analyses of watchdogs such as the Information Commissioner are “unsatisfactory” because they “do not attempt to capture the dynamic impacts on innovation and competition”.
The paper states: “Using the high level methodology previously applied by the Better Regulation Executive, the total cost of regulation in the UK today would be estimated at about £220billion per year.
“Such estimates are of limited value, however, as it is difficult to calculate macro costs and benefits, and dynamic effects on markets, or quantify the costs to individual freedom and democracy.”
Ms Hewson said the IEA programme will include new work to calculate the cost of red tape to the economy.
She said: “By attempting to quantify the impact regulations have on the economy, as well as the rule of law and personal freedoms, the regulatory affairs programme will contribute to the ongoing discussion around the UK’s future relationship with the EU as well as general discussion of red tape in the UK.”
Mr Johnson has vowed to cut EU red tape.
The Prime Minister has signalled he intends to axe EU rules which require the Government to award contracts to companies based on the lowest price.
Small UK businesses have long complained this leaves them outcompeted by foreign firms offering bargain basement rates.