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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Press statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Edmund Stoiber, Chairman of the High-Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens

Press point

Brussels, 7 December 2010

I met with Mr. Edmund Stoiber today to discuss the progress of the EU's efforts to reduce administrative burdens.

Red tape is a dead weight on businesses. That is why we should free up their time and easing the strain on their purses coming from administrative burdens

The Commission has understood this. It has delivered 70 reduction proposals which exceeded by far the initial reduction target of minus 25% and we are now preparing new proposals bringing the total reduction potential to almost 33% equivalent to 41 billion euros.

That is what the updated figures show that we release today, which we released today, on the implementation of the administrative burden reduction programme.

Alone the switch to electronic invoicing of VAT – adopted by the European Parliament and Council this year after a proposal of the Commission - saves businesses up to 18.4 billion euros. I know that the German federal government has already started implementing this very important measure. I hope that in Germany everybody will know that this comes from a European initiative and also with the great contribution of Dr. Stoiber.

Overall, I am very pleased with this result. The equation of Brussels to bureaucracy is less true than ever! I am very grateful to Mr. Stoiber and to the whole High-Level Group for their assistance and support in this matter.

But the track record for final adoption is not yet perfect: 14 measures (out of the 70 tabled so far) are still pending before the European Parliament and the Council.

For example, our proposal on micro-entities has not yet been adopted by the Council. Our proposal, if adopted, would exempt small businesses with a maximum of 10 employees - so very small businesses- from EU accounting obligations and could generate an annual saving of 6.3 billion euros.

This is why I strongly hope that this and all other remaining proposals will be adopted rapidly, because doing so would lend a hand to European businesses at a time when they need it more than ever.

So I also call on Member States to implement these proposals in the least burdensome way.

It defeats the purpose if Member States implement EU law in ways that impose yet more administrative burdens on businesses. Let me tell you that sometimes this happens. Sometimes, the problem is not in the initial European legislation; it is in what people call 'gold-plating': Member States, each national administration adds some more requirements. And this kind of perfectionism that we see in some Member States is not really helpful, in fact it is very negative.

Precisely to identify good practice in implementing EU law, I have asked the High-Level Group, chaired by Dr. Stoiber, to produce a report on this by the end of 2011. I think this will be a report of the highest importance because it will be a way of looking in a comprehensive manner how we are addressing the problem of bureauracy and administrative burdens at the European level and at the national level. Because for us to be successful in this fight against administrative burdens, all the pieces need to fit together, at the European and national level.

The Commission is clearly not alone in the race to reduce burdens for our businesses. It is a relay race. We have passed on the baton to the Parliament and the Member States. It's now up to them to take it to the finish line. I know that in that overall race, Dr. Stoiber is going to give a very good example and once again I thank him for his leadership in this very important matter.

Thank you.

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