Today in Brussels, the Commission hosts the first meeting of the REFIT Platform. Forty-eight members from a diversity of stakeholders, the European Economic and Social Committee, the European Committee of the Regions and all Member State governments will come together to make EU legislation and its implementation in Member States more efficient and more effective in achieving its objectives. By bringing together a diverse group of experts on the concrete impact of EU legislation on the ground, this initiative will provide a basis for inclusive work on the common goal of better regulation for better results.
First Vice-President Timmermans, who chairs the REFIT Platform, said: "To deliver what citizens expect from us, reviewing and improving existing EU rules is just as important as making new proposals. The body of EU law must remain fit for purpose, up to date and as simple as possible. To ensure this, we need to hear the views of those who really know: the citizens, the small entrepreneurs, the public administrators who are faced everyday with the advantages but also sometimes the inefficiencies of our laws and the way they are implemented by Member States. The REFIT Platform is there to collect their views, assess them and turn them into pragmatic and operational suggestions to the European Commission."
The work of the REFIT Platform will be driven by its members, mainly on the basis of input received from the public via the 'Lighten the Load' tool. This new online portal is open for all members of the public to provide their suggestions for reducing the unnecessary regulatory burdens they experience in their daily lives. Platform members will assess the merits of the stakeholder contributions and look at practical ways to follow up on their suggestions without undermining policy objectives.
The Commission will react to all the Platform's suggestions and systematically and publicly explain how it intends to follow up. Through their representatives on the Platform, Member States will be invited to do the same where suggestions relate to national transposition and implementation of EU law. During its first meeting today, the Platform is discussing its work programme for 2016. Around 250 suggestions were already submitted to the group via the Lighten the Load tool.
The REFIT Platform was announced in the 2015 Better Regulation Agenda. It consists of a Stakeholder Group, with 18 members and two representatives from the European Social and Economic Committee and the Committee of the Regions, and a Government Group, with one high-level expert from each of the EU's 28 Member States. Members will be supported in their work by the Commission's Secretariat-General. The members of the Stakeholder Group were selected through a public call for applications. The Commission has sought a balanced representation of different sectors, interests, regions and gender.
The REFIT programme has delivered results for business in many areas since its launch in 2012. Through REFIT actions, we have seen for instance a reduction of up to 90% in SME fees for compliance with chemicals legislation, the introduction of e-procurement tools saving up to 20% of procurement costs, and various waivers for SMEs on particularly heavy regulatory burdens. In its 2016 Work Programme the Commission identified 40 REFIT initiatives in diverse policy areas.
The Commission presented its Better Regulation Agenda on 19 May 2015 to change both what the EU does, and how it does it. The EU, its institutions, and its body of law, are there to serve citizens and businesses, who must see this in their daily lives and operations. We must restore their confidence in our ability to deliver. The Juncker Commission represents a new start. Our priority is to deliver solutions to the big issues that cannot be addressed by the Member States alone.
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