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No 6 (January 97/Janvier 97/Januar 97)
The Dublin European Council, at its meeting on 13 and 14 December, welcomed the results of the first phase of SLIM and called for its extension to other sectors. Simpler Legislation for the Internal Market is not just desirable; it can become a reality, even in the short term. That is the conclusion drawn from the first phase of the SLIM project, in which a working method was devised that brought together in small teams some experts from national administrations, users of the legislation and the European Commission in an attempt to identify specific measures for simplifying legislation in four areas: the Intrastat system of statistics for intra-Community trade, construction products, the recognition of diplomas and ornamental plants. In its report to the Council of Ministers and to Parliament the Commission describes the exercise as a positive one but adds that the success of the entire operation will depend on the extent to which the Council and Parliament will be willing to review current legislation and adopt the changes the Commission is about to propose on the basis of concrete suggestions put forward by the SLIM teams. Emphasizing that overregulation at national level is a major obstacle to the completion of the Single Market, the Commission calls on Member States to simplify their legislation.
The SLIM project was launched by the Commission in May 1996 following growing calls from firms and industry for legislation that was effective but did not impose unnecessary constraints. The Commission was asked by the European Council to report before the end of the year.
Summary of the results of the pilot project
Intrastat is a system for the compilation of statistics on intra-Community trade since the abolition of checks at internal borders in 1993. It is costly, both for firms and for administrations, and the statistics, which take a long time to produce, are not of sufficient quality. Proposals for simplification are aimed at:
All construction products are governed by a single Directive (89/106/EEC of 21 December 1988) which requires adoption of technical specifications, be they harmonized standards, European technical approvals or recognized technical specifications. Eight years after the adoption of the Directive, those standards have not been adopted and the Single Market has yet to become a reality in this sector.
The Commission will come forward with proposals along the lines of the SLIM team report. In the short term, it will endeavour to improve the working procedures of the European standardization bodies. In the longer term, its aim will be to introduce a complete and coherent system for the construction sector as a whole and re-examine the Directive with a view to aligning it with the principles of the "New Approach" and to put an end to the binding link between the implementation of the Directive and the existence of harmonised standards.
Recognition of diplomas
A total of seven sectoral Directives relating to doctors, nurses, veterinary surgeons, dental practitioners, midwives, architects and pharmacists were adopted between 1975 and 1985. Unlike the general system that, since then, has followed a "horizontal approach", this system requires constant scrutiny of common rules by sectoral advisory committees.
In 1997 the Commission will put forward proposals to streamline the working of the advisory committees and to simplify the updating of lists of diplomas eligible for automatic recognition. It will also examine whether it would be advisable to transfer the professions concerned by the sectoral Directives to the general system following the review of that system which is due in 1999.
Community rules on the marketing of ornamental plants are contained in a Directive that lays down minimum quality standards and conditions and specifies supporting accreditation procedures and the keeping of written records. Transposal into national law has given rise to numerous inconsistencies and problems of interpretation. Rapid and uniform implementation of the Directive has not proved possible.
Opinion among the members of the SLIM working team was divided on whether Community legislation was actually needed in this field. The Commission will, by May 1997, come forward with proposals to clarify the Directive and reduce the burdens on business. It will also look into whether the Directive should be repealed.
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