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European Commission - Press release

State of the Union 2016: Commission presents results of Better Regulation approach

Strasbourg, 14 September 2016

On the occasion of President Juncker's 2016 State of the Union address, the Commission today reported on progress made and steps going forward to ensure that better regulation is a means to deliver tangible benefits for European citizens and address the common challenges Europe faces

Designing modern, proportionate rules that are fit for purpose is a shared responsibility which is essential for upholding the rule of law and our common values, and also for the efficiency of public administrations and businesses. The better regulation approach is underpinned by assessing critically whether action should be tackled at Union or national level, and engaging more actively and meaningfully with all stakeholders.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "A political Commission is one that listens to the European Parliament, listens to all Member States, and listens to the people. And it is us listening that motivated my Commission to withdraw 100 proposals in our first two years of office, to present 80% fewer initiatives than over the past 5 years and to launch a thorough review of all existing legislation. Because only by focusing our resources on the issues where Europe can provide real added value and deliver results, and quickly, will we be able to make Europe a better, more trusted place."

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for Better Regulation, said today: "We will be ambitious where we must, and modest wherever we can. Citizens across Europe expect the European Union to change. They want the EU to tackle the big problems that affect them in their cities and streets, but at the same time they don't want rules that create red tape or complicate their lives unnecessarily. We have worked hard to change and to break with the past. We have culled many rules, we have improved many others, and we have put forward proposals that focus on the big issues such as migration, security, investment and climate change. We will continue on this path listening to and acting on people's concerns. And if the Parliament and the Council take up our proposals and adopt them, real change will be felt by citizens all around Europe soon."

At the start of its mandate, the Juncker Commission made clear that it would change what it is doing and how it does it, by focusing the Commission's action on those issues that really matter to people, being big on the big things where European action is most necessary and leaving the Member States to take responsibility where national action is more appropriate.

Being big on big things also means having the ability to address new circumstances and urgent issues by mobilising quickly when needed, as has been the case for example in the migration crisis. The Commission has prepared and presented initiatives in record time, with evidence-based analysis of their impact.

Better Regulation is a shared agenda requiring sustained efforts from all EU institutions and from national governments.

The Commission today restates its commitment to the Better Regulation Agenda, and sets out the following priority actions:

  • Staying the course: The 2017 Commission Work Programme will remain focused on few, well selected initiatives reflecting our 10 political priorities and addressing the challenges the EU is currently facing. The Work Programme will include withdrawals and will follow up on the first REFIT Platform proposals.
  • Taking responsibility: The Commission will consider amendments to the rules governing EU-wide authorisation procedures in certain sensitive sectors in order to ensure that the Commission is not alone in assuming the responsibility to act where Member States cannot give an opinion.
  • Being transparent: The Commission will propose a new Transparency Register to cover stakeholder interactions with the European Parliament, Council and Commission.
  • Reporting on burdens: The first “annual burden survey” will be presented by the Commission as part of the new Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making.
  • Stepping up enforcement: The Commission will adopt a Communication on Application of Union Law to promote effective application, implementation and enforcement.  

A Track Record of Being Big on Big Things

The Commission has significantly reduced the scale of its annual Work Programmes, counting 23 new priority initiatives and packages in 2015 and 23 again in 2016. It has focused its efforts on major initiatives with high EU added value: boosting investment, responding to the refugee crisis, strengthening borders, combatting climate change, fostering innovation through a digital single market, building an energy union, and combatting tax evasion and avoidance.

Consistent compliance with EU laws also matters to citizens. The Commission puts particular emphasis on those infringements that have a significant impact on the attainment of important EU policy objectives.

Reducing Regulatory Burden and Cutting Red-Tape

The Commission has dedicated equal energy to simplifying existing legislation and ensuring it remains fit for purpose in a rapidly changing world. To allow us to focus on priority issues, we have withdrawn 90 proposed laws over the past two years that were not advancing in the legislative process, we have repealed 32 outdated laws and we have identified 103 areas for regulatory simplification.

The establishment of the REFIT Platform has increased the input from national governments and stakeholders to our simplification agenda. Via a dedicated website, stakeholders are able to present their views on EU laws to the Platform and suggest improvements. The Platform has already considered over 100 ideas and presented 17 opinions with concrete suggestions to the Commission on a wide variety of issues. The Commission will report on its intended follow-up in the 2017 Work Programme.

Open and Evidence-Based Policy Making

Since May 2015, the Commission has implemented a series of measures to engage more actively and meaningfully with all stakeholders when preparing new initiatives and evaluating existing policies. This is bringing about a step-change in the involvement of stakeholders and citizens, who are now able to provide online feedback on the Commission's initial policy ideas, to participate in web-based public consultations, to comment on the proposals the Commission makes and comment on implementing legislation before the Commission adopts it into law.

To strengthen independent quality control of the Commission's Impact Assessments a new Regulatory Scrutiny Board replaced the previous impact assessment board on 1 July 2015, with a wider and strengthened mandate to look at existing legislation. The Commission's impact assessment system has been evaluated externally and its quality recognised and ranked highly by the OECD.

For more information

Communication - Better Regulation: Delivering better results for a stronger Union

Communication on Better Regulation for Better Results

IIA on Better Law-Making

The REFIT Platform

The REFIT Programme

Lighten the Load Portal

Press release on the Better Regulation Agenda

Memo on the Better Regulation Agenda


Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

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