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Drive to cut red tape shows first signs of success - 30/01/2008

Messy stack of files on a desk

First tangible results of EU's drive to cut red tape being felt by Europeans and businesses alike, says progress report.

Having weeded out 5 000 pages of EU law since October 2007 –  some 300 legal acts – the EU is beginning to reap the benefits of its drive to simplify legislation. Companies pocketed an estimated €500m of savings in 2007 and expect to see another €800m come their way shortly.

With 40 EU laws said to account for over 80% of the EU's perceived administrative burden, the commission is looking for change. In January 2007 it set itself the target of reducing red tape on businesses by 25% by 2012.

Without jeopardising the purpose of the legislation or watering down the protection it provides, certain measures are being revised to make EU rules easier to implement. For example:

  • payment services are being simplified so Europeans can pay anywhere in the EU with the same level of ease and security as at home. The savings for the EU economy could amount to as much as €28bn a year.
  • a modernised customs code would do away with paperwork and encourage more convergence between the computer systems of the EU’s 27 customs administrations, thereby boosting international trade.
  • a groundbreaking revision of insurance legislation will see 14 laws replaced by a single act providing uniform protection to policyholders throughout the EU.
  • a "Small business act for Europe" – to be launched this summer – will simplify rules for small businesses.

Far from going it alone, the commission is being assisted by an independent monitoring group and has set up a special website to gather suggestions on reducing administrative burdens from businesses and individuals across Europe.

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