Brussels, 28th January 2009
simplification of EU law continued in 2008
The European Commission simplification programme
continues to deliver tangible benefits for citizens and companies, in particular
small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) in 2008. Some 1,300 acts,
representing around 10 % of the acquis, the large body of EU legislation,
have been removed since the launch of the strategy for simplifying the
regulatory environment in 2005. The European Commission’s “Third
progress report on the strategy for the simplification of the regulatory
environment” shows that 132 simplification initiatives have already
contributed to streamlining the regulatory framework, improving working
procedures (wider use of information technologies) and ensuring a well
functioning of the internal market. Today’s report complements the
Commission “Strategic Review on Better Regulation” and the
“Reducing Administrative Burdens in the EU 2008 progress report and 2009
outlook” which are also tabled today.
The third progress report highlights success stories achieved by this
Commission and a set of ambitious further measures to be presented in the course
Overall, this Commission has taken action since October 2005 to reduce the
acquis by almost 10% - about 1,300 legal acts and 7,800 pages of the Official
- The simplification rolling programme contains 185 identified
initiatives for the period 2005-2009 concerning all policy areas. About
132 of these initiatives have already been adopted by the Commission and
73 have finalised their legislative process. 36 by the Commission as autonomous
acts (Commission decisions) and 37 by the legislature (approved by EP and
Council). 52 simplification proposals are pending before the Council and the
- The Commission has already proposed about 800 legal acts for amendment or
repeal under the simplification programme. As a result, the acquis will be
reduced by about 600 legal acts or around 6,500 pages of the Official Journal.
In parallel, the Commission has also codified the acquis with a view to making
it more compact and readable whilst ensuring legal certainty. The 142 newly
codified acts have replaced 729 previous acts, corresponding to about 1,300
pages of the Official Journal.
- As well as simplifying legislation, the Commission also codifies it,
combining the basic law and all subsequent amendments into one text. This makes
laws clearer and reduces the size of the acquis whilst ensuring legal
certainty. The Commission has finalised 217 codification acts. The 142
newly codified acts have replaced 729 previous acts, corresponding to about
1,300 pages of the Official Journal.
The results show the wide
range of simplification measures, as the following examples will illustrate.
The achieved success stories concern the following areas:
1. A streamlined regulatory framework
- The new General Block Exemption Regulation harmonising and
consolidating five legal acts into one text allows Member States to approve a
range of aid measures without first notifying the Commission which enables
faster processing of cases. This revision, aimed to promote job creation and
competitiveness, covers aid for SMEs, research, innovation, regional
development, training, employment and risk capital.
working methods and simplified procedures
The Commission actively promotes the wider use of IT as a way to
improve working procedures. For example:
- The new Common Procurement Vocabulary (a standard EU product
description) facilitates the identification of public procurement opportunities
anywhere in the EU, irrespective of the language of the country of procurement.
The forms used by public authorities to publish notices in the EU Official
Journal have been standardised and automated, reducing publication time from 12
to 5 days.
3. A well functioning Internal Market
The Internal Market is a driving force for simplification in the EU,
allowing a vast set of national laws to be concentrated into a single piece of
legislation, replacing 27 different national laws by one single European text.
- The common rules for the operation of air services should contribute
to more consumer choice, lower fares and more competition.
- The ‘VAT package’ introduces new rules for services which
will mean that business-to-business services will be taxed in the Member State
of the customer. This should act as an incentive for businesses to provide
services throughout the EU. The package also includes a mini one-stop shop for
telecom, broadcasting and e-commerce services for businesses established within
the EU and a new procedure for claiming VAT refunds for businesses not
established in the Member State in which the VAT was
Continuation of a success story
The number of simplification measures adopted by the Council and the European
Parliament has gone up from 16 in January 2008 to 37 in January 2009.
However, 52 simplification proposals are still pending before the Council
and the European Parliament. It is important that the institutions progress in
their consideration of these proposals so that even more benefits are enjoyed by
business, citizens and public administration. Such pending proposals are
- The new EU directive, which will replace 10 existing directives, on
investment funds, known as 'UCITS' (Undertakings for Collective
Investment in Transferable Securities) will provide consumers with access to
professionally managed investments on affordable terms.
- The new "Car Safety Package" proposal will simplify the existing
regulatory environment by repealing 150 directives on the type-approval of
vehicles; and introduce mandatory fitting of safety features and tyre pressure
monitoring systems on passenger cars, dramatically improving vehicle safety and
reducing CO2 emissions.
- The Consumer Rights Directive will contribute to the better
functioning of the business-to-consumer internal market by enhancing consumer
confidence in the internal market and reducing business reluctance to trade
across borders. It will decrease fragmentation and simplify the existing
regulatory framework by repealing 4 directives. The Directive will provide
consumers with a high common level of consumer protection and adequate
information about their rights and how to exercise them. A standard set of
consumer contract terms will cut compliance costs substantially.
- The package of energy efficiency proposals aims to make energy
savings in key areas, for example by reinforcing energy efficiency legislation
on buildings and energy-using products. Average annual energy savings can easily
amount to over € 1,000 per household.
- The simplification of the single payment scheme of the Common
Agricultural Policy introduces, notably, more ‘decoupling’,
doing away with two application procedures and dual controls under two parallel
systems (representing a € 0.64m reduction in costs to farmers in the
Initiatives for 2009
The Commission has included 33 simplification initiatives in its
Legislative and Work Programme for 2009 such as the revision of
Directive 2000/35/EC on combating late payment in commercial
transactions which is part of the “Small Business Act for
Europe” and the "European Economic Recovery Plan"; Further
initiatives are the simplification of EC legislation on agricultural and
forestry tractors by replacing 24 Directives with one Regulation or the
modernisation of Regulation (EC) N°44/2001 to adapt Regulation to
new international instruments and to ensure recognition and enforcement of
judgements in civil and commercial matters.
Screening of the entire acquis
The Commission has carried out a comprehensive screening of the Community
acquis and a further 81 actions could be incorporated in future
simplification activities during the next Commission. For example:
- the alignment of 15 technical harmonisation Directives with the Decision
setting out a common framework for the marketing of products;
- the revision of legislation on health threats (communicable diseases
and chemical, biological and radio-nuclear threats) animal health, welfare
and feed or a further burden reduction in the statistical area thanks
to the MEETS (Modernisation of European Enterprise and Trade Statistics)
programme. This will improve the methods of data collection in Member States
through more use of administrative and accounting data and improved sampling
schemes and also better and more intensive use of available sources.