Better Regulation is a broad strategy to improve the regulatory environment in Europe - containing a range of initiatives to consolidate, codify and simplify existing legislation and improve the quality of new legislation by better evaluating its likely economic, social and environmental impacts.
Laws and regulations are necessary to ensuring a fair and competitive market place, the effective protection of public health, the environment and the welfare of European citizens. Better Regulation is about doing this in ways that maximise public policy benefits whilst minimising the costs regulation may impose on our economy. There is abundant evidence that Better Regulation can boost productivity and employment significantly, thus contributing to Europe's growth and jobs agenda.
In Europe, regulatory environment is developed both by the European Union and its Member States. Thus Better Regulation is about improving the regulatory framework both at the European and national level.
The Commission has a special responsibility in achieving the better regulation objectives at three levels: preparation, follow-up and implementation of the legislation. The European Parliament and the Council have an equally important responsibility when adopting new legislation. As to the Member States, they have an important role to play insofar as they implement and, in the case of directives, transpose EU legislation.
The Better Regulation strategy also seeks to reinforce the constructive dialogue between all regulators at the EU and national levels as well as with stakeholders.
Why do we regulate?
In an era of globalisation, in which barriers to movement of goods, services and people are falling, citizens expect their governments to ensure theirsafety and welfare. Businesses expect public authorities to ensure a level playing field and boost innovation and competitiveness.
Regulation is key to meeting these challenges. It serves many purposes - to protect health by ensuring food safety, to protect the environment by setting air and water quality standards, to set rules for companies competing in the marketplace to create a level playing field. Regulation is a necessary and accepted aspect of modern society.
We regulate at all levels - at local, national, European and international level. But poorly conceived and ill-considered regulation can prove to go beyond what is strictly necessary. Some regulation can be overly prescriptive, unjustifiably expensive or counterproductive. Layers of overlapping regulation can develop over time, affecting businesses, the voluntary sector, public authorities and the general public.
Regulation can also become quickly outdated. Rapid technological developments, expanding global markets and ever-increasing access to information mean that regulation has to be kept under constant review and adapted to keep pace with the fast moving world.
Why do we regulate at European level?
The European Union has many goals. Its Member States have agreed to work together through common policies to achieve these goals. This means EU-wide rules, normally proposed by the Commission and agreed by the Council (consisting of a representative of each Member State at ministerial level) and by the European Parliament.
One of the most important EU goals is free movement of goods, services, persons and capital, and much of European legislation is aimed at making this single market work. Laws are also made at European level in policy areas where EU Member States have agreed on common policies (agriculture, fisheries, trade, customs) and in other areas where they have decided that there is added value in legislating at European level under specific circumstances (environment, justice and home affairs, health and consumer protection, social matters, etc.).
All of these policies have brought new rights and opportunities to Europeans, created jobs and boosted growth - but to work, they need a set of agreed rules that are applied consistently throughout the EU.
In most of these areas, the European Commission is responsible for proposing the policies and laws and making sure that they are properly applied. It pays special attention to the need for actions to be taken at the right level and to be proportionate to the problem at hand in line with the principles of 'subsidiarity' and 'proportionality' cemented in the Treaties.