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Brussels, 28th January 2009

Better regulation – a European success story

The strategic review on Better Regulation in the European Union tabled by the European Commission today, shows that better regulation is a core component of Europe's response to the economic and financial crisis. The review shows that citizens and companies, in particular small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), already benefit from simplified measures and administrative costs savings. Thanks to radical simplification some 1,300 acts, representing around 10 % of the acquis or 7800 pages of the Official Journal, have been proposed for removal so far. The administrative burden reduction measures already presented or foreseen, represent savings in excess of €30billions. Today's proposal on VAT alone amounts to €18 billion in savings. The Commission's leadership on administrative burdens has inspired most Member States and 21 of them have put in place at national level ambitious national programmes to reduce administrative burdens. Finally the Commission will continue to improve the quality of all new legislation it produces by further upgrading the quality of its impact assessments. It will do this by strengthening the subsidiarity check, improving the consultation of stakeholders, and by assessing more thoroughly impacts on, for example, SMEs, administrative burdens, fundamental rights, consumers and regions.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said, "The reduction of administrative burden proposed by the Commission is an essential part of the European recovery initiative. Times are changing. Regulation must be dynamic not static. It must adapt to new situations and new needs. By improving consultation of stakeholders, through better impact assessments and cutting administrative burdens we can make European regulation ever more effective and user-friendly. The Commission is delivering. I hope that in the coming months Member States and the European Parliament will maintain the momentum to our efforts and deliver as well".

Vice President Günter Verheugen stated “Four years after its launch the Better Regulation strategy is a success. We have already achieved impressive results and are keen to go much further by the end of this year. Better Regulation – regulating where necessary but keeping burdens on businesses and citizens to the minimum necessary - must remain an essential part of our response to current economic difficulties.”

Radical simplification of EU law continued in 2008

By simplifying and codifying legislation, this Commission has taken action which once all agreed by Council and Parliament will reduce the acquis of EU legislation by almost 10% - about 1,300 legal acts and 7,800 pages of the Official Journal.

However there is room for further simplification, and the Commission will deliver on 33 new initiatives in 2009. Following a screening of the EU legislation, further 81 actions could be incorporated in future simplification activities. As a result the next Commission should be able to complete on the simplification exercise.

For more information, see MEMO/09/31

Cutting administrative burden under full speed

Since the presentation of the European Commission proposal to reduce administrative burdens on businesses in the EU by 25% in 2012 and to engage also Member States, the number of Member States which have set similar national reduction targets increased significantly from 7 (2006), to 14 (2007) and 21 (2008).

In 2007 and 2008 the Commission has tabled 21 Fast Track Actions (FTA) representing estimated savings of more than € 2.3 billion for EU businesses. In addition the foundations were laid to allow for Commission proposals, implying large scale cost reductions. Today the Commission has adopted a proposal for an ambitious revision of the VAT Directive to remove the barriers to electronic invoicing. The yearly reduction potential could be as high as € 18 billion in the mid-term. In the case of company law, the Commission plans to propose to allow Member States to exclude micro-enterprises from the scope of EU accounting directives, which could bring additional savings of € 7 billion. The “think small first principle” is being applied across the board to these directives to tailor the system to the needs of SMEs.

For more information, see MEMO/09/30

More information (Secretariat General)

More information (DG Enterprise)

For more information on e-invoicing, please see IP/09/132

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