What REFIT is
REFIT is part of the Commission’s better regulation agenda. It makes sure that EU laws deliver their intended benefits for citizens, businesses and society while removing red tape and lowering costs. It also aims to make EU laws simpler and easier to understand.
REFIT pays particular attention to small businesses, which can be disproportionately affected by the burden of implementing EU rules. Small and medium-sized enterprises represent 99% of all businesses in the EU.
How REFIT works
REFIT is incorporated in the preparation of the annual Commission work programmes, each of which includes proposals for new initiatives and a quality review of existing EU legislation.
Potential benefits and cost savings of each new proposal are evaluated through impact assessments, impacts of EU laws are checked by retrospective evaluations and stakeholder views are collected through consultations.
To ensure the best outcome, various levels of government are involved: the Commission works with the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, EU countries and other stakeholders.
The REFIT platform allows national authorities, citizens and other stakeholders to get involved in improving EU legislation. They can make suggestions on how to reduce the regulatory and administrative burdens of EU laws, which are then analysed by the REFIT platform and the Commission.
The REFIT scoreboard tracks the progress of each individual initiative and the changes introduced by Parliament and Council during the legislative procedure.
How laws are simplified
Each year, the Commission launches a set of simplification initiatives within its REFIT programme – drawing on input from individuals, businesses, NGOs, national authorities and other stakeholders. Simplification can take a number of forms.
Changes are made to existing law:
- codification: all amendments made to a piece of legislation over the years are incorporated into a single new act, reducing volume and complexity
- recasting: similar to codification, but in this case the legislation itself is amended at the same time as previous amendments are incorporated to form 1 consolidated text
- repeal: unnecessary and irrelevant laws are removed
- review/sunset clauses: laws are reviewed or automatically removed after a given period
- revision: laws are modified to keep them up-to-date
- directives are replaced with regulations, so that all EU citizens are subject to the same rules and national governments can't add extra requirements
- laws still in preparation are withdrawn if they become obsolete due to scientific or technical advances or if they are no longer in line with new policy objectives
- legally binding laws are replaced with lighter alternatives such as voluntary agreements (self-regulation, co-regulation)
How you can contribute
The Commission would like to hear your views on existing EU laws and initiatives via the lighten the load feedback form. What do you find irritating or burdensome? What do you feel is in need of improvement?
We will follow up directly with you or send your comment to the REFIT platform for further consideration.
Achievements since 2012
- 83 legislative initiatives proposed, containing 17 exemptions or lighter regimes for SMEs: 32 adopted and 20 implemented in EU countries
- 141 laws in preparation withdrawn
- 37 laws repealed in 2015 and 2016
- 30 evaluations and fitness checks carried out; 39 scheduled in 2016
- 40 REFIT actions in the Commission's 2016 work programme
- simpler financial reporting system for 5 million micro-companies (estimated annual savings €6.3 billion)
- registration fees under REACH chemicals legislation cut by up to 95% for SMEs
- procurement costs cut by up to 20% thanks to new electronic procurement rules
- new digital tachographs for lorry drivers increase safety and cut red tape (estimated annual savings €400 million)
- fitness check begun on EU chemicals legislation other than REACH; an evaluation will assess REACH in light of REFIT goals
- VAT simplification measures, particularly for SMEs, ongoing
2002 – Better regulation programme is a first step in simplifying and improving EU legislation. It introduces obligatory impact assessments and stakeholder consultations for all new initiatives proposed by Commission.
2005 – Simplification Rolling Programme covers 164 measures for 2005-2009 and becomes part of the annual work programme.
2007 – Commission launches action programme to reduce administrative burden of EU regulation. High‑level group is set up to advise on implementation. Its recommendations include facilitating electronic invoicing and exempting micro‑enterprises from EU accounting rules.
2012 – by end of action programme, Commission reaches its target of cutting by 25% the administrative burden for businesses stemming from EU legislation (estimated annual savings €30.8 billion).
2015 – Commisison publishes a study (ABRplus) which examines how 12 measures from the action programme have been applied in the EU countries and to what extent the promised benefits have been achieved
2015 – Commission sets up REFIT platform.