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Fit for growth: making EU law simpler, lighter and cheaper - 02/10/2013

Hand cutting red tape with scissors ©

The Commission is simplifying – and even withdrawing – EU rules and regulations. The aim is to make life easier for businesses and citizens and foster economic growth.

Today the Commission sets out, by policy area, where it will take further action to simplify or even withdraw EU laws, reduce the burden on businesses and make EU laws easier to implement.

This exercise is at the heart of the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT).  Ensuring that EU legislation is "fit for purpose" is essential for putting Europe back on track towards more growth and jobs.

President Barroso said: "Europe is there to help find solutions to the big challenges we are collectively facing. However, to be effective, we need to make sure we concentrate on the right priorities and have the right dose of regulation. Not everything that is good is good at European level. Let's think twice whether, when and where we need to act at European level."

This is in line with the President's message in his State of the Union address on 11 September: "The EU needs to be big on big things and smaller on small things."

The President continued: "With REFIT, the Commission has undertaken the most comprehensive exercise to date to make EU law lighter and simpler. Our resolute application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality will not put into question the important benefits for citizens and business of EU regulation, particularly the rules underpinning the Single Market. Today's REFIT package provides a pragmatic outlook for the future of regulation in Europe just a few months ahead of the European elections in May 2014."

Alongside its plans, the Commission has published the results of a review of all EU legislation, defining a wide range of ongoing or proposed measures.  In addition, the Commission announced that it will publish a scoreboard to track progress at European and national level.

Much has been achieved but a clearer focus on the right priorities is needed

Small businesses benefit from a wide range of existing measures designed to reduce administrative burdens, including electronic VAT invoicing as well as exemption or special regimes in the areas of accounting, electronic waste and trade statistics.

Between 2007 and 2012 administrative burdens such as unnecessary reporting and information requirements have been reduced by 25%. This is expected to increase EU GDP by 1.4%, equivalent to €150 billion.

Major policy reforms aimed at simplifying rules and reducing costs include the introduction of a single EU patent, the development of an EU customs code, and cutting the price of broadband deployment.

The way in which legislation is prepared by the Commission has also changed significantly; in particular by paying close attention to the needs of small businesses and through the systematic use of impact assessments, public consultations and evaluations.

In the pipeline

Over 20 initiatives for cutting red tape are currently being considered, including measures related to consumer product safety and animal health.

For businesses, the a standardised VAT declaration could help cut costs.

By the end of 2014, almost 50 evaluations on regulatory burdens will have been carried out. This includes planned checks on rules related to health and safety at work, temporary agency workers, and the new range of EU rules in the financial services sector.

Finally, the Commission wants to withdraw a number of proposals that are stuck in the legislative process, and to repeal some adopted laws that may no longer be necessary.

Working with the other EU institutions and EU governments

The success of the Commission's regulatory fitness programme will crucially depend on whether or not the other EU institutions and member states show the same level of ambition.

An annual scoreboard will also be published to track the progress of EU and national legislation as well as encourage dialogue between citizens, governments, business and civil society at large.

Regulatory Fitness

Smart regulation

Administrative burdens

Press release - Commission takes ambitious next steps to make EU law lighter

Memo - Examples how EU law is becoming lighter, simpler and cheaper

New boost for small businesses

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