The European Union is guilty of meddling and “mission creep” in its determination to impose ever more social legislation and employment laws on member states, Conservative MEPs said today.

They were responding to the latest proposal by the European Parliament’s Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality – to roll out new equal-pay legislation across the EU and to set targets for the UK and other nations to reduce the gender pay gap.

As Conservative MEPs prepared to vote against the measures on Thursday, spokesman Marina Yannakoudakis said: “Of course we wholeheartedly support equal pay for equal work. We recognise that the gender pay gap is real and continues to widen.

“It is unfair and wrong – but unequal pay is already illegal in the UK. And that is why we oppose further interference by the EU. Quite simply, it is not what the EU should be doing.”

The London MEP added: “We don’t need more EU laws, we need EU countries without national legislation in place to be encouraged to take their own measures. This is a complex issue that it is best dealt with by employment experts in each member state.

“Instead, the EU as a whole and the Women’s Rights Committee in particular cannot resist indulging in meddling and mission creep. They want a way to impose their way forward on everyone else.”