In a move to make it easier and cheaper for enterprises to do business and for citizens to enjoy the benefits of the Single Market, the European Commission announced a major package of measures to strengthen and improve the European regulatory framework and ensure the EU's "regulatory fitness".
"If Europe is to grow, create jobs and compete internationally, EU legislation must be fit for purpose. This is why we have put smart regulation at the heart of our policy-making. Today, we are stepping up our efforts by launching a new and comprehensive Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme. We will look at the existing stock of legislation and systematically target all that is not absolutely necessary to achieve sustainable growth, jobs and competitiveness efficiently."
It includes a new programme to cut any unnecessary regulatory costs at EU and national level. It follows up on the administrative burden programme. And it sharpens the tools - impact assessments, evaluations, public consultations - that allow EU legislation to keep fit. This package is set to help the EU to grow and compete in difficult times. Its importance was recognised by the European Council on 18-19 October 2012.
Smart regulation is a joint task of the Commission, the European Parliament and Council, and the Member States and the Commission is working actively to turn this shared responsibility into a shared mission. The Communication on EU Regulatory Fitness takes stock of considerable progress achieved so far in implementing the Commission's Smart Regulation agenda. It also outlines how EU legislation can achieve its objectives even more effectively and efficiently: demonstrating clear added value, delivering full benefits at minimum cost and respecting the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The final goal is a simple, clear, stable and predictable regulatory framework.
The Communication outlines the following measures:
1. A new Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) to systematically identify and transparently carry out initiatives that will result in significant regulatory cost reduction and simplification.
2. A follow-up to the Action Programme for Reducing Administrative Burden (ABRplus) to ensure that our success in the Administrative Burden Action Programme to cut red tape by 25% are bringing benefits to businesses and SMEs in the Member States.
3. Sharpened tools for regulatory management: continuous improvement of impact assessments; more comprehensive and critical evaluations, firmly anchored in the policy process, improved stakeholders consultations, and more support to implementation.
The Communication is accompanied by two Staff Working Documents:
"Review of the Commission Consultation Policy" showing how the Commission consults widely and transparently (with over 300 open consultations published over the last three years) and following international best practice (with stakeholders being systematically granted 12 weeks to respond). The review also outlines a set of measures to further improve consultation quality.
"Action Programme for Reducing Administrative Burden - Final Report" detailing how the Commission has made proposals to cut administrative burden by 33% (nearly EUR 41 billion), exceeding the 25% target set in 2008. The EU co-legislators have adopted many of those proposals (amounting to almost EUR 31 billion).
In parallel, the Commission has also been adapting EU legislation to the needs of SMEs and microenterprises, consulting widely with them and screening the body of laws to detect and relieve burdens on them. In early 2013, the Commission will present a first progress report on these activities.
In its smart regulation Communication of 7 October 2010 the Commission committed to report by 2012 on implementation.
The June 2012 "Compact for Growth and Jobs" called upon the Commission to propose by the end of 2012 continued efforts to reduce the overall regulatory burden at EU and national level and further steps in smart regulation, including measures to support micro-enterprises.
Conscious about the growth potential of smart regulation, the European Council of 18-19 October 2012 expressed that it is looking forward to the presentation of this report.