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Fewer administrative formalities for more growth

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The Commission proposes associating the improvement and simplification of regulations with the achievement of the Lisbon objectives. The Commission draws a link between better regulation and stronger growth, which in turn leads to the provision of more and better jobs. Cutting down on administrative formalities will allow businesses to stimulate growth and create more jobs in the European Union. In order to achieve this objective, the Commission presents tools for better regulation and wishes to strengthen dialogue between the regulatory services of the EU and those of the Member States.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 16 March 2005, entitled "Better Regulation for Growth and Jobs in the European Union" [COM(2005) 97 - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The aim of this Communication is to stimulate growth and employment by promoting the improvement and simplification of regulations in areas affecting European competitiveness. The Commission considers that this process of regulatory simplification helps to make Europe a more attractive place for investors and workers.

The complexity of Community legislation is counterproductive for the public authorities, businesses, citizens and social partners. The legislative and administrative burdens are particularly onerous for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which account for two thirds of employment in the European Union (EU).

Simplification of existing legislation

Action must be taken at all levels. Cooperation with the Parliament and the Council is therefore essential, as is the Member States' commitment to guaranteeing that the principles of better regulation are respected.

The strategy for regulatory simplification is one of the cornerstones of the Better Regulation initiative. This simplification goes further than simply rewriting the existing legislative texts, requiring efforts to create more effective, more flexible and more proportionate rules for those who must respect and apply them.

With a view to increasing the impact on growth and competitiveness of the legislative simplification initiative, the Commission proposes taking the following measures:

  • identifying the legislation in need of simplification in cases where legislative complexity proves to be disproportionate. The Commission proposes using websites on better regulation to let businesses, NGOs and citizens air their views and give specific examples of the administrative costs arising from the legislation to which they are subject;
  • devising integrated sectoral action plans to simplify essential technical measures which concern a number of sectors, such as manufacturing industry, the car industry, the fisheries sector or the telecommunications sector;
  • promoting the use of European standards as technical back-up for European legislation or as an alternative to legislation.

The Commission drew up an initial simplification programme as early as 2003 with a view to reducing the volume of the Community acquis. It proposed taking a more systematic approach to consolidation and codification once a legislative instrument had been amended and deleting obsolete legislation from the acquis. The Commission calls upon the stakeholders concerned at Community and national level to continue their efforts in this direction.

As regards existing legislation, the Council drew up a list in 2004 of legislative instruments divided into fifteen priority groups for potential simplification. At the start of 2005, following impact analyses on the scope of the simplification process for this list of instruments, an extensive consultation of the Member States and the business community supplemented by an on-line public consultation pushed the Commission to focus primarily on certain key areas, in line with the objectives of competitiveness and economic revival, such as company law, financial services, transport and consumer protection.

Impact assessment

The Commission undertakes to carry out impact assessments with a view to meticulously analysing the economic, social and environmental consequences of the new legislation. These assessments go hand-in-hand with a wide-scale consultation in order to gather the opinions of all stakeholders wishing to contribute to the drafting of the new rules.

In accordance with the new guidelines for impact assessments, emphasis is laid on economic aspects. The main objective is to support competitiveness, including effective competition, while still assessing the social and environmental consequences of the proposed measures. A complex network of various rules at national and regional level will only undermine competition, whereas the application of a single rule in all the Member States is simpler and more effective.

Better regulation at Member State level

Better regulation is not solely a Community concern based on close interinstitutional cooperation: the Member States can also help to reduce bureaucracy. The Commission wants better regulation to become an integral part of the Lisbon National Action Plans. With this aim in mind, it recommends that the Member States:

  • take national measures to promote better regulation, which should include impact analysis systems and simplification programmes;
  • engage in preventive dialogue with the Commission services in order to avoid introducing procedures which are not automatically required by a directive at the time of its transposition for harmonised areas reserved for texts deemed to be essential;
  • use infringement proceedings and preventive controls to improve the quality of regulations in terms of transparency, legibility and efficiency in non-harmonised areas such as the free movement of goods.

In 2005, the Commission set up advisory monitoring bodies involving:

  • national experts on the issue of better regulation. This group advises the Commission, particularly as regards simplification and impact analyses. It strengthens cooperation between the Commission and the Member States, thereby improving the quality of the implementation of Community legislation;
  • independent experts on better regulation, who can intervene at the request of the Commission. These experts are responsible for giving an external opinion on the scientific rigour of the methodology used for specific impact analyses.

The Commission will continue to publish assessment reports with a view to monitoring the implementation of the simplification strategy.

RELATED ACTS

First progress report on the strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment, 14 November 2006 [COM(2006) 690 - Not published in the Official Journal].
This Commission working document complements the Communication on the Strategic Review of Better Regulation in the European Union. The Commission takes stock of the progress achieved in the implementation of the simplification strategy. It adds 43 initiatives to those identified in October 2005 with a view to enhancing the simplification process in the period 2006-2009. These new initiatives range from administrative simplification in agriculture and the revision of the eco-label award scheme to the simplification of existing legislation on toys.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 14 November 2005, entitled "A strategic review of Better Regulation in the European Union" [COM(2006) 689 - Not published in the Official Journal].
This strategic review analyses the progress achieved and maps out the main challenges ahead. The Commission considers that great effort has gone into achieving better regulation in the EU, but that the programme must continue to be followed with determination. The Commission, the Parliament, the Council and the Member States can do even more. The Commission insists on the need to further simplify the legislation in force, reduce administrative burdens and codify and repeal obsolete legislation. As regards cooperation with the Member States, the most visible progress can be observed in the measurement of administrative costs and the reduction of burdens. Although only relatively few countries systematically use integrated impact assessments for all new legislative proposals, and the results often cannot be subjected to an external audit, many ad hoc initiatives are taken at national level to lighten the administrative burden, such as on-line administration, one-stop shops and national registration offices.

Communication from the Commission of 21 October 2005 on an EU common methodology for assessing administrative costs imposed by legislation [COM(2005) 518 - Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication outlines an EU common methodology and proposes the next steps for its introduction. The EU common methodology for assessing administrative costs must be applied in a proportionate manner, in other words only when the scale of the administrative obligations imposed by an EU act justifies it. However, some efforts to minimise the administrative burden have not involved quantification. In those cases, complaints and suggestions from targeted groups are gathered through public consultation. A group of experts then examines the regulatory framework and makes recommendations for simplification. The Commission considers that an EU common methodology provides net added value, provided that it is not applied at the expense of analysis of other impacts.

Communication from the Commission of 27 September 2005, entitled "Outcome of the screening of legislative proposals pending before the Legislator" [COM(2005) 462 - Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication relates to the screening by the Commission of all proposals pending before the Council and the Parliament. One of the factors contributing to the success of the simplification objectives is interinstitutional cooperation. These impact assessments, defined in the Communication of March 2005, relate to pending proposals. When the screening process was launched in April 2005, the total number of pending proposals was 489. The Commission provides for two types of action: the withdrawal of proposals and the continuation of the legislative process with an in-depth economic analysis. Following screening by the Commission, action will be taken as regards the 73 pending proposals which were considered not to be consistent with the Lisbon objectives.

This fact sheet is not legally binding on the European Commission, it does not claim to be exhaustive and does not represent an official interpretation of the text of the Treaty.

Last updated: 28.02.2007
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