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Administrative burdens: sectoral reduction plans 2009
This communication follows on from the 2007 action programme and presents the Commission’s sectoral reduction plans and additional measures needed to reduce administrative burdens on businesses within the European Union (EU). The reduction of regulatory costs for businesses is part of the Commission’s strategy to promote competitiveness, growth and jobs, as well as being in line with the Small Business Act and its “think small first” principle.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament – “Action Programme for Reducing Administrative Burdens in the EU Sectoral Reduction Plans and 2009 Actions” [COM(2009) 544 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
As part of the Commission’s ‘Better Regulation Agenda’, an action programme for reducing administrative burdens in the European Union (EU) was presented in 2007. In this action programme the Commission proposed an EU strategy whereby administrative burdens arising from EU legislation would be reduced by 25% by 2012. At the beginning of 2009, the Commission committed to present sectoral reduction plans for 13 identified priority areas and to prepare additional measures to reduce administrative burdens in order to reach the target by 2012.
EU baseline measurement
The Commission undertook an assessment of administrative burdens incurred by businesses in fulfilling EU legal obligations to provide information on their products and activities. This EU baseline measurement identified 486 EU information obligations and more than 10,000 national obligations transposing or implementing the EU obligations, of which more than 700 of the national obligations go beyond EU legal requirements.
The results of the EU baseline measurement showed that a large number of the administrative burdens come from a small number of information obligations in a couple of policy areas such as taxation and company law. This result confirms the Commission’s decision to focus their efforts on a limited number of acts in certain key areas.
The Commission found that in general small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) incur a proportionally higher burden due to their lack of access to advanced information and communication technologies and to their lack of in-house specialist staff dealing with regulatory matters. It was therefore concluded that special effort must be made to reduce administrative burdens on SMEs. This is in line with the Small Business Act and its “think small first” principle.
The assessment also showed that about a third of administrative burdens of EU origin result from some EU countries going beyond EU legal requirements and being inefficient in their administrative procedures. Differences in the burdens imposed by national measures in the implementation of EU legislation suggest that an exchange of best practice would reduce administrative burdens in many EU countries.
Reduction target for EU legislation
The Commission has already identified potential areas for reductions of burdens that would go beyond the target of 25% reduction by 2012. Measures already adopted could result in a reduction exceeding EUR 26 billion, and measures proposed but yet to be adopted could add EUR 12 billion to that sum. Together with further reductions which are currently under preparation this could lead to a total reduction of EUR 40.4 billion which represents a 33% reduction of administrative burdens of EU origin.
Where the reduction measures are mainly addressed to EU countries as opposed to the EU as a whole, the Commission is responsible for facilitating the changes.
Since the start of the legislature, the European Parliament and the Council have already adopted numerous legislative proposals in all priority areas and the Commission has also put in place several measures for further reduction.
As well as focussing on areas which impose significantly larger administrative burdens, such as taxation and company law, the Commission has also concentrated on allowing enterprises to make the best possible use of the cost saving potential of new technologies and e-government solutions, thereby lightening the burden on SMEs.
Progress at national level
All EU countries have agreed to set individual national reduction targets to eradicate unnecessary administrative burdens. In this communication, the Commission emphasise the need to maintain EU countries’ individual efforts because businesses will only receive the benefits of EU action if their national authorities do their part in reducing administrative burdens of national origin.
Through further consultation and examination, the Commission has identified additional areas of potential reduction which would either extend the scope of the existing 13 priority areas or add new areas to the action programme.
The Commission will continue in its efforts by:
- proactively reviewing existing legislation to ensure that unnecessary obligations are removed;
- ensuring that any new policies introduced do not impose more administrative burdens than necessary.