Today, President Barroso discussed ways of boosting growth and jobs with the High Level Group on Administrative Burdens, chaired by Dr Edmund Stoiber, the former Minister-President of Bavaria.
By cutting red tape on an EU level the Commission is helping businesses, in particular small businesses, to focus their resources on core activities instead of spending time and money on unnecessary paperwork. In addition, the Commission cooperates closely with Member States to share best practice in implementing EU legislation, as up to a third of the administrative burdens on businesses deriving from EU legislation stem from the national implementation of EU requirements.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "Within the past five years the Commission has initiated measures that reduce red tape for EU businesses by up to €32.3 billion a year. We need to cooperate closely with Member States to ensure that these savings bring real relief to businesses. In early October, the Commission will present the next steps for making EU legislation fit for purpose and reducing the burden for companies, in particular, SMEs. These efforts are essential to put Europe back on track and generate more growth and more jobs."
The Chairman of the High Level Group on Administrative Burdens, Dr Edmund Stoiber, expressed satisfaction with the European Commission's initiative on administrative burden reduction and said: "It is a considerable success that the ambitious reduction target of 25% has been exceeded, reaching 26.1%. With this impressive achievement, enterprises in Europe are facing €32.3 billion less in administrative burden. It is however even more important for the future that the mentality inside the Commission has been changing, so that internally the bureaucratic impact of each of its proposals can be examined and taken into account."
During today's meeting with the High-Level group, President Barroso pointed to the successful completion of the EU Action Programme for reducing administrative burdens, and thanked the group for its support. The 25% reduction goal of the Action Programme has been achieved and exceeded with the adoption, to date, of measures worth €32.3 billion (26.1%) by the European Parliament and the Council. Measures include the switch to a fully electronic VAT invoicing system and reducing the number of companies that need to provide data for intra-EU trade statistics. The latest initiative, adopted in June this year, further simplifies accounting rules for small companies (with max. 50 employees), with an estimated annual savings of about €1.5 billion.
President Barroso emphasised that the Commission is driving the smart regulation agenda with its Regulatory Fitness Programme (REFIT), launched in December 2012. In the past six months, the entire stock of EU legislation has been screened to identify further possibilities for simplification and burden reduction, with a particular emphasis on reducing regulatory burdens for SMEs. The Commission is already taking action on the Top 10 most burdensome EU laws identified by SMEs and business organisations in a broad consultation from October to December 2012. REFIT is also following up on the Administrative Burden Reduction Programme to see if the legislation is being implemented in the Member States in a way that brings real relief for businesses.
Mr Stoiber urged the Council to follow the example of the Commission underlining that while the European Parliament is building up an impact assessment unit, there is no such bureaucracy-check in the Council. If the EU is serious about the fight against excessive administrative burden, this must change. Furthermore, Mr Stoiber strongly criticised Member States because some of them lack ambition and do not use the many opportunities to reduce the administrative burden offered by the EU. This has to improve according to Mr Stoiber and needs to be pointed out clearly by Commission and Parliament in their contacts with the concerned countries.