Europe to move from “better regulation” to “smart regulation”

The European Commission has presented its Communication entitled “Smart Regulation in the European Union” in order to ensure that European legislation really benefits European citizens and businesses. This Communication outlines the measures that the Commission intends to put in place in order to ensure better quality and relevance of legislation helping  achieve the ambitious objectives for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth set out by the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Commission's approach to regulation put forward in the Communication “Smart Regulation in the European Union”  understands that it must promote the interests of citizens, and deliver on the full range of public policy objectives from ensuring financial stability to tackling climate change. EU regulations also contribute to business competitiveness by underpinning the single market, eliminating the costly fragmentation of the internal market because of different national rules.

At the same time, the Commission stresses that given that Europe depends on businesses, in particular small and medium enterprises, to get back on the path to sustainable growth, it is necessary to limit burdens for them to what is strictly necessary, and allow them to work and compete effectively.

The Commission believes that it is now time to step up a gear and move from "better regulation" to "smart regulation", and be further embedded in the Commission's working culture.

  • Smart regulation is about the whole policy cycle, from the design of a piece of legislation, to implementation, enforcement, evaluation and revision. It is necessary to build on the strengths of the impact assessment system for new legislation. But also match this investment with similar efforts to manage and implement the body of existing legislation to ensure that it delivers the intended benefits. This requires a greater awareness by all actors of the fact that implementing existing legislation properly and amending it in the light of experience is as important as the new legislation we put on the table.
  • Smart regulation must remain a shared responsibility of the European institutions and of Member States. These actors have made varied progress, and the Commission will continue to work with them to ensure that the agenda is actively pursued by all. This must be accompanied by a greater recognition that smart regulation is not an end in itself. It must be an integral part of our collective efforts in all policy areas.
  • The views of those most affected by regulation have a key role to play in smart regulation. The Commission has made great strides in opening its policy making to stakeholders. This can also be taken a step further and the Commission will lengthen the period for its consultations, and carry out a review of its consultation processes to see how to strengthen the voice of citizens and stakeholders further. This will help to put into practice the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty on participatory democracy.

Commission has also approved the 2009 Report on Subsidiarity and Proportionality (17th Report on Better Lawmaking). The report provides background information on the principles, and presents examples of key cases where subsidiarity concerns were raised. It demonstrates the broad variety of opinions held by the different actors – the Commission, the European Parliament, the Council, the Committee of the Regions, the Economic and Social Committee and national Parliaments.

The European Commission will report on progress on the smart regulation agenda in the second half of 2012.