The European Commission releases a strategic review on EU Better Regulation

The EC strategic review on Better Regulation in the European Union shows that better regulation is a core component of Europe's response to the economic and financial crisis. The review shows that citizens and companies, in particular small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), already benefit from simplified measures and administrative costs savings. Thanks to radical simplification some 1,300 acts, representing around 10 % of the acquis or 7800 pages of the Official Journal, have been proposed for removal so far.

Since the presentation of the European Commission proposal to reduce administrative burdens on businesses in the EU by 25% in 2012 and to engage also Member States, the number of Member States which have set similar national reduction targets increased significantly from 7 (2006), to 14 (2007) and 21 (2008).

In 2007 and 2008 the Commission has tabled 21 Fast Track Actions (FTA) representing estimated savings of more than € 2.3 billion for EU businesses. In addition the foundations were laid to allow for Commission proposals, implying large scale cost reductions.

In this respect, the Commission has adopted a proposal for an ambitious revision of the VAT Directive to remove the barriers to electronic invoicing. The yearly reduction potential could be as high as € 18 billion in the mid-term.

In the case of company law, the Commission plans to propose to allow Member States to exclude micro-enterprises from the scope of EU accounting directives, which could bring additional savings of € 7 billion. The “think small first principle” is being applied across the board to these directives to tailor the system to the needs of SMEs.

The Commission will also continue to improve the quality of all new legislation it produces by further upgrading the quality of its impact assessments. It will do this by strengthening the subsidiarity check, improving the consultation of stakeholders, and by assessing more thoroughly impacts on, for example, SMEs, administrative burdens, fundamental rights, consumers and regions. Besides, the European Commission already noted in November 2009 that Better Regulation principles had also led to better law enforcement and better infringement management.

As European Commission President José Manuel Barroso highlighted, “the reduction of administrative burden proposed by the Commission is an essential part of the European recovery initiative. This support to make EU regulation more user-friendly is backed by the goods results obtained four years after the Better Regulation Strategy launch. As referred by Vice President Günter Verheugen EU has “already achieved impressive results and are keen to go much further by the end of this year. Better Regulation – regulating where necessary but keeping burdens on businesses and citizens to the minimum necessary - must remain an essential part of our response to current economic difficulties.”

Better Regulation achievements and next steps

By simplifying and codifying legislation, the Commission has taken action which once all agreed by Council and Parliament will reduce the acquis of EU legislation by almost 10% - about 1,300 legal acts and 7,800 pages of the Official Journal.

However there is room for further simplification, and the Commission will deliver on 33 new initiatives in 2009. Following a screening of the EU legislation, further 81 actions could be incorporated in future simplification activities. As a result the next Commission should be able to complete on the simplification exercise.