The need for better regulation

To achieve better results, the Commission is opening up policy and law-making and listening more to the people it affects. Better regulation relies on evidence and a transparent process, which involves citizens and stakeholders (for example, businesses, public administrations and researchers) throughout.

The Commission identifies areas for improvement to the existing body of EU legislation. And when proposing new policies and laws, the Commission is focusing on the things that really do need to be done by the EU, and makes sure they are done well.

Applying these principles will help the Commission to meet its objectives at minimum cost and administrative burden. It also responds to concerns raised by EU citizens.

Objectives

Better regulation sets out to ensure:

  • decision-making is open and transparent
  • citizens and stakeholders can contribute throughout the policy and law‑making process
  • EU actions are based on evidence and understanding of the impacts
  • regulatory burdens on businesses, citizens or public administrations are kept to a minimum

What the Commission is doing

Strengthening preparation 

The Commission is assessing the expected and actual impact of action at every stage of the decision-making process. Extensive planning and analysis is carried out before taking action, for instance before proposing a new law, or when evaluating how well laws are performing.

Track Commission outputs: planned initiatives, roadmaps, inception impact assessments, impact assessments

Improving consultation

The Commission is improving and increasing opportunities to contribute throughout the policy and law-making cycle. Interested citizens and stakeholders can share their views on:

> Find all upcoming public consultations

Making sure EU laws are fit for purpose

The Commission is assessing the performance of the existing body of EU law and making changes where necessary to keep laws up-to-date.

  • The Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) programme was established in 2012 to make EU law simpler and to reduce the costs of regulation while still achieving benefits. The Commission is strengthening REFIT, by creating more possibilities for stakeholders and EU countries to contribute.
  • The REFIT platform, chaired by First Vice-President Timmermans, collects suggestions and makes recommendations on how to simplify laws.
  • The state of play of REFIT initiatives for simplification and reducing regulatory burden is published in the REFIT scoreboard.
  • Evaluations and fitness checks  are used to assess if EU laws, policies and funding programmes are delivering the expected results at minimum cost

Ensuring quality

The Commission has established the Regulatory Scrutiny Board, an independent group of Commission officials and experts from outside the Commission. Its role is to check the quality of all impact assessments and major evaluations that inform EU decision-making.

The better regulation guidelines and toolbox contain guidance for Commission services on how to effectively implement common standards for better regulation at every step of the policy and law-making process.

Increasing cooperation between EU institutions

The political will to improve the quality of law-making, review existing laws and update them where necessary, is shared by the 3 main EU institutions: the Commission, Parliament and the Council. An agreement on better law-making between them was signed and entered into force in April 2016.

Inter-institutional agreement on better law-making

International regulatory cooperation

By informing each other and cooperating early on in the process, regulators and competent authorities can come up with solutions to similar problems, while keeping up their respective policy objectives and standards. This reduces the cost of doing business and creates more and fairer competition across borders.

On regulatory issues, the Commission cooperates closely with its trading partners, both in multilateral dialogues, for instance with the UN, the OECD and the World Bank, as well as in bilateral dialogues.

Regulatory cooperation has also become an integral part of bilateral free trade agreements, such as EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and is part of ongoing negotiations on the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Documents

Better regulation for better results - an EU agenda

Proposal for an inter-institutional agreement on better regulation