'We're doing well on cutting red tape, but can do more'
The European Commission's ongoing efforts to cut red tape have led to savings of more than €30bn over the last few years but there is still more that can be and make life easier for businesses across the EU, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič told MEPs on 19 June.
Speaking at the meeting of the European Parliament's legal affairs committee, V-P Šefčovič touched on a number of issues, but focused primarily on the major efforts to reduce the administrative burden.
He told MEPs that since December last year the Commission had been implementing the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme ("REFIT"), which involves the mapping and screening of the entire body of EU legislation.
"Whenever burdens, gaps and inefficiencies are identified, we are trying to establish the reasons for it and deciding on the best way to take corrective action," he said, adding that the results of the programme would be publicised in October, along with Commission proposals for addressing the issues identified.
More immediately, V-P Šefčovič highlighted the work on the so-called Top 10 initiative, designed to identify the 10 most burdensome EU legislative acts. Results of the consultation were released in March, and since then the Commission has been working on its response to tackling the issues highlighted.
"Where possible, the Commission has itself acted directly to deal with the issue. In other areas, where legislative change is needed, the Commission has made proposals to the co-legislator," he said. "At least six of the top 10 concerns are already addressed by proposals of the Commission which are currently in the legislative process. It is now for Parliament and Council to act on these proposals in order to bring simplification and reduction of regulatory burden to business."
He also stressed the work that Commission had done to improve the impact assessment procedure, which is now carried out ahead of all legislative proposals, and on the organisation of public consultations.
And he highlighted in particular the need for all institutions to work together on reducing red tape. "The Commission can propose a 'smart' piece of legislation that is altered within the co-decision process or by the Member States when they make their implementation choices," he said, urging MEPs to assess the impact of their potential amendments of proposals and Member States to avoid 'gold-plating' rules with additional burdens when copying them into national law.
Among the other issues discussed by V-P Šefčovič during the meeting were administrative law – whether the body of EU law is fit-for-purpose - and the role of national parliaments in policing 'subsidiarity' – the principal that the EU should legislate only in areas where EU action is needed.
Finally, he updated MEPs on the state of play with three major dossiers: the next seven-year EU budget, reform of the EU staff regulations and the proposal on European political parties. In all three cases, three-way negotiations are still underway between Commission, Member States and Parliament, and while the discussions have been tough at times, the Vice-President said he was hopeful that a solution could be found soon in all three cases.