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Brussels, 25 October 2005

Better regulation continued: Commission wants to simplify over 1,400 legal acts

Today, the European Commission has taken another step to deliver on its commitment to modernise EU legislation and cut unnecessary red-tape and over-regulation. It has presented a three year programme to simplify the existing thousands of pages of EU legislation (“acquis”) adopted since 1957. Following a broad consultation of Member States and stakeholders, the Commission proposes to repeal, codify, recast or modify 222 basic legislations (all in all more than 1,400 related legal acts) in the next three years. The programme will be regularly updated. It kicks off with the most heavily regulated sectors, such as cars, waste and construction. Other sectors such as foodstuffs, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals or services will follow soon. The Commission also intends to tackle administrative burden, especially for small business, by simplifying cumbersome statistics form-filling or by modernizing the customs code to facilitate electronic exchange of information. Simplification can only be achieved if the European Parliament and Member States as co-legislators support it. For more information, see MEMO/05/394.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: “Better regulation is a corner stone of our Partnership for Growth and Jobs. Simpler EU legislation legislation is one of the main elements of our better regulation programme. It will boost the competitiveness of our companies. The Commission is delivering on its promises. ”

Vice-President Günter Verheugen added: “This initiative will greatly simplify the EU rulebook. This will have a positive effect on the competitiveness of our economy. But better regulation is not de-regulation. The policy objectives do not change, but the way to get there will be much easier, cheaper and more effective for citizens and business.”

Today’s work programme is largely based on the input from Member States, interest groups and citizens. Preliminary analysis of the on-going internet consultation (see IP/05/693) shows that a good deal of public reaction relates to red tape in national or local rules, rather than EU legislation. This is why better regulation will form an integral part of the Member States national reform programmes under the new Partnership Growth and Jobs.

The Commission proposes the following:

1. Repeal of EU legislation

The Commission intends to remove from the statute-book those legal acts which are unnecessary, irrelevant or obsolete. To help prevent obsolescence in future, the Commission will introduce in its legislative proposals either a sunset clause or a review clause.

Knots in wood: Repeal of the directive to classify wood which defines the quality, the size of the knots and the diameter of wood in the rough.

Type approval for car products: 28 of 56 EU directives will be repealed and replaced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) regulations.

2. Codification

Codification contributes greatly to the reduction in volume of EU legislation, and at the same time, provides more readable and legally secure texts, thus facilitating transparency and enforcement.


Cosmetics – turn 45 directives in one: Council Directive 76/768/EEC relating to cosmetic products and 7 subsequent amendments as well as 37 adaptations to technical progress directives will be codified and simplified in one new directive.

3. Recasting to clarify and improve consistency

Recasting is a powerful simplification method as it simultaneously amends and codifies the legal acts in question. Priority will be given to the merging of legal acts to maximise synergies, minimise overlaps and redundancies, and increase the clarity and consistency of EU rules.

Safety and health of workers at work is governed by 20 directives. The revision of these texts will harmonise the periodicity of reporting and possibly replace the several reports with a single one covering all aspects.

4. More co-regulation

Co-regulation can be a more cost efficient and expedient method for addressing certain policy objectives than the classical legislative tools. Standardisation by independent bodies is an example of a well recognised ‘co-regulation’ instrument.


For many industrial and consumer products, the “CE” marking attests that a product has been certified and can be marketed in the EU. The corresponding EU approach to technical harmonisation limits the content of EU legislation to the essential requirements.

What has been achieved in safety-sensitive areas such as medical devices or machinery could no doubt be extended to – or further developed in - other domains such as cosmetics, noise emissions by machines, or health and safety at work.

5. The use of Regulations as a simplification tool

Replacing directives with regulations can under certain circumstances be conducive to simplification as regulations enable immediate application, guarantee that all actors are subject to the same rules at the same time, and focus attention on the concrete enforcement of EU rules. This contribution to simplification was widely recognised in the consultations.
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