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Brussels, 27 September 2005

Better regulation

The Commission initiative on better regulation consists of three elements:

  • 1. Withdrawal or modification of pending proposals
  • 2. Simplification of existing EU-law
  • 3. Better quality of new Commission proposals

1. The screening of legislative proposals

This screening exercise was launched in the March Communication on Better Regulation for growth and jobs, which announced the intention of the Commission to screen legislative proposals adopted by the Commission before 1 January 2004 and that are still pending before the Council and the Parliament, with regard to their general relevance, their impact on competitiveness and other effects.

This MEMO provides the following information:

  • Screening exercise: The figures
  • Examples of withdrawals
  • Impact assessment: state of play
  • The next step: simplification

Summary of figures

  • Pending proposals dated from before 1/1/2004: 183
  • Proposals intended to be withdrawn: 68

These are proposals which:

  • May have potentially adverse effects on competitiveness
  • Impact assessments had not been carried out, or for which a more thorough impact assessments is necessary
  • Substantial new scientific evidence, market developments or societal changes would justify a review of the approach initially chosen
  • Had not made substantial progress through the legislative process for a significant period of time
  • Are no longer relevant due to objective reasons such as proposals that had become outdated owing to more recent proposals, or which objectives have been attained through other means
  • Proposals intended to be maintained in the legislative process but with presentation of economic analysis: 5

The Commission is convinced that these proposals remain important, but where additional presentation of the analysis of their impact is likely to facilitate decision making by the Legislative Authority.

  • 73 pending proposals will be subject to some form of intervention (withdrawals and presentation of economic analysis).
  • Withdrawals: 31 % of all pending proposals from before 1/1/2004.
  • All interventions: 33 % of all pending proposals from before 1/1/2004. This includes proposals singled out for presentation of economic analysis.

Some examples

Labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs

COM 1997/20 – 1997/27: Proposal for a EP and Council Directive amending Directive 79/112/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs

Purpose: the proposal was intended to relaunch the debate on the list of ingredients for alcoholic beverages, in particular by providing that the rules for labelling the ingredients of beverages containing more than 1.2% of alcohol by volume are to be adopted within a certain timeframe.

Status: No progress has been achieved both at the Council and the EP since the Commission adopted a modified proposal in July 1999. First reading still pending, as no Presidency since then has put the proposal on its agenda

Reasons for withdrawal: Lack of progress in the Council. No impact assessment had been done on this proposal. In light of the need for a new and streamlined strategy regarding the whole labelling issue in the food sector, the Commission will present a global initiative in this area. A proper impact assessment will cover this initiative as a whole.

Week end bans for trucks

Ref: COM 1998/0096 – 1998/115: Proposal for a Council Directive on a transparent system of harmonized rules for driving restrictions on heavy goods vehicles involved in international transport on designated roads

Purpose of the proposal: The existence of different driving restrictions in the MS based on various social, economic, environmental and technical considerations compromises freedom to provide transport services within the EU and calls for a transparent system of harmonised European rules. The Commission proposal seeks to guarantee that a strategic road network will be open to heavy goods vehicles engaged in international road haulage without affecting the right of MS to apply further driving restrictions.

Status of the proposal: In Nov. 2000, the Commission submitted to the Council a modified proposal which was subsequently further modified in Aug. 2002. No progress has since then been achieved.

Reasons for withdrawal: This proposal has never been impact assessed. The controversial reception by the other institutions and some MS as well as the current blockage at the Council (because of the links with the Eurovignette Directive) requires its withdrawal for a full re-assessment on the basis a proper impact analysis. A revised proposal could therefore be considered following such re-assessment.

Sales promotion in the internal market

Ref: 2001/0227/COD: Proposal for a regulation of the EP and the Council on sales promotion in the internal market

Purpose of the proposal: Sales promotions are important tools to market goods and services. They cover discounts of all forms; premium offers, free gifts, promotional contests and promotional games. The proposal was aimed at eliminating restrictions to the free movement of services between the Member States through the creation of a harmonised regulatory framework covering the cross-border use and commercial communication of sales promotions.

Status of the proposal: The Commission adopted the proposal on 2 October 2001. The Parliament completed its first reading on the 4 September 2002 and the Commission adopted the amended proposal on 25 October 2002. Since then, it has not been possible to make further progress. A blocking minority in the Council does not favour mutual recognition in this area and is also opposed to a Regulation (preferring a Directive).

Reasons for withdrawal: This proposal falls within the category of those measures which have failed to make progress in the legislative process for a substantial period of time. In addition, the proposal has never been subjected to impact assessment.

Statute for a European Association

1991/0386/COD: Proposal for a regulation of the EP and the Council on the Statute for a European Association 

Purpose: to create a statute for the European Association to allow associations and foundations to be active in the whole EU territory. The statute would have created a legal personality for associations operating in several EU member states.

Statute: Latest event: 1999: confirmation by the Parliament of its 1st reading opinion. Since then pending in first reading before the Council.

Reason for withdrawal: No progress has been achieved in the legislative process for the last 6 years. This proposal has become largely obsolete and needs therefore to the re-assessed taking into account the new political and economic priorities.

Statute for a European mutual society

1991/0390/COD: Proposal for a regulation of the EP and the Council on the Statute for a European mutual society

Purpose: to create a statute for the European Mutual society to allow mutuals to be active in the whole EU territory. The statute would have created a legal personality for mutuals operating in several EU Member States.

Statute: Latest event: 1999: confirmation by the Parliament of its 1st reading opinion. Since then, pending in first reading before the Council.

Reason for withdrawal: No progress has been achieved in the legislative process for the last 6 years. This proposal has become largely obsolete and needs therefore to the re-assessed taking into account the new political and economic priorities.

Cabin crews on planes

1997/0212/COD: Proposal for a Council Directive on safety requirements and attestation of professional competence for cabin crews in Civil Aviation.

Purpose: The proposal lays down requirements for the competence of cabin crews assigned to safety duties on aircraft used by Community carriers and falls under the implementation measures of rules covered by Regulation 3922/91/EEC on the harmonization of technical requirements and administrative procedures in the field of civil aviation (amended in 2000 – 2000/69 and still pending approval).

Status: Various rounds of discussions took place at the EP and the Council which resulted in March 1999 in a modified proposal from the Commission taking on board several amendments proposed by the EP. First reading is still pending since 1999.

Reasons for withdrawal: The content of this proposal has been integrated into another proposal (regulation aimed at incorporating JAR OPS 1 -Joint Aviation Requirements- into Community legislation).

Optical radiation/sunshine directive

1992/0449B/COD: Proposal for a Council directive on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents.

Purpose: Directive 89/391/EEC sets the framework for EU workers protection. Implementing measures are then specified through Council and EP Directives. The proposal for the “sunshine directive” would represent the 19th implementing measure. It deals with risks arising from physical agents, in particular optical radiation which best known risk is the exposure to natural sunlight.

This proposed Directive laid down minimum health and safety requirements for workers exposed to optical radiation. An evaluation of the risk of exposure to these agents is required to be carried out. The proposal did not lay down any rigid measures but presents in its annex non-exhaustive indications that facilitate the implementation of practical measures. Activities involving an increased risk of over-exposure have to be declared to the competent authorities which will, if deemed appropriate, take the necessary measures.

The Directive provides for the information, training and consultation of workers, as well as individual protection equipment, the provision of appropriate signs and the control of access to risk areas. It deals with the monitoring of workers' health (particularly in the case of over-exposure) and covers required work methods and equipment for reducing risk.

Status: Various debates took place at the Council where several MS were extremely critical, in particular as regards the effects on SME’s. In 2nd reading the EP proposes to exclude solar radiation from the scope of the implementing directive as this is already partially covered by other product directives.

Reasons for acting on the proposal: No impact assessment has been made on the current text and exposure to natural sunlight was not part of the original proposal. Commission agrees with the proposed EP amendment to delete aspects dealing with the exposure of workers to natural optical radiations which rules will be left to the discretion of Member States.

For the complete list of proposals withdrawn see the annex of the communication at:

2. Simplification

As a next step, the Commission’s better regulation efforts will now focus on simplifying and updating existing EU legislation. The Commission will launch a new, major initiative - including a work programme - in October 2005.

The objective is to screen existing legislation in view of its modernisation. The Commission will set up a three year action program. The intention is to put substantially more emphasis on the economic aspects.

For starters, the Commission intends to focus on three priority areas for further simplification measures – the automotive, construction and the waste sector. These sectors have been selected, because of the large accumulation of EU legislation, because of the considerable importance of the sector to overall economic competitiveness and on the basis of the number of complaints received from industry.

Other sectors will follow. To this end the Commission has started a broad public consultation. The Member States, main European associations and the broad public have been invited to provide the Commission with their input on how to improve the overall EU regulatory environment.

3. Better Commission proposals - Improved impact assessment

Revised Impact Assessment Guidelines were adopted in June 2005. About 100 planned initiatives contained in the Commission’s work programme 2005 will be accompanied by an impact assessment.

Important new elements are a reinforced economic analysis looking at the effects that proposed legislation may have on competitiveness while taking into account social and environmental impact, and a much greater emphasis on stakeholder consultation throughout the process.

The Commission’s approach to impact assessment involves the following key steps:

1. Analysing the issue/problem, what causes it, who it affects, and if the EU level is the appropriate level to deal with it (in line with the principle of subsidiarity);

2. Defining some key objectives to tackle the problem; and ensuring that these are consistent with other EU policies and strategies, such as the Sustainable Development and Lisbon Strategies;

3. Looking at possible policy options to meet the objectives, making sure to always consider the option of taking no action at all at EU level, and examining alternative approaches to regulatory actions;

4. Assessing the possible impacts of short-listed policy options, intended and unintended, across the social, economic and environmental dimensions; the analysis should also consider impacts that fall outside the EU;

5. In the light of the impact analysis, the options should then be compared to see if it is possible to rank them and identify a ‘preferred’ option.

6. The new guidelines also set out a procedure for completing an impact assessment report in those cases where a decision is taken, possibly as a result of the impact assessment, not to proceed with the proposal.

7. Throughout the process, there should be close contacts between Commission services to ensure that all relevant factors are taken into consideration. The requirement to consult with stakeholders also ensures that a full picture be developed of potential impacts.

The need to establish a common approach to impact assessment has also been recognised by the three institutions and the Commission hope that an agreement will be achieved by the end of the year. Furthermore, as has been done in the case of codification, a fast track inter-institutional mechanism should be agreed for the technical repeal of obsolescent acts of the Council or of the European Parliament and the Council.

The Commission is also working on a common EU method to assess administrative costs, which is particularly important for SMEs and public administrations.

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