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.
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
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.
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:
- roadmaps and inception impact assessments, where the Commission outlines new ideas for policies and legislation or evaluations of existing policies
- aspects of impact assessments, where the Commission analyses the possible economic, social or environmental impacts of a proposal
- legislative proposals, once they have been agreed on by the Commission
- draft acts that add or amend aspects of existing laws (delegated acts), or set out rules to make sure EU countries implement laws in the same way (implementing acts).Share your views on draft implementing and delegated acts
- elements of evaluations and 'fitness checks' of existing policies and laws
- how to improve existing EU laws
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
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.
Strengthening subsidiarity and proportionality
Subsidiarity is about identifying the best level to make and implement policies. The EU should only act where it is necessary and where it delivers clear benefits over and above measures taken at national, regional or local levels. Proportionality focuses on the financial and administrative impact of proposed legislation. Any such impact must be minimised and must be commensurate with the policy objectives. For the Commission this means delivering our ambitious policies in the simplest, least costly way, and avoiding unnecessary red tape.
On 14 November 2017 European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker officially established the 'Task Force on Subsidiarity, Proportionality and "Doing Less More Efficiently" to make recommendations on how to better apply the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The Task Force handed over its final report on 10 July 2018. On 23 October 2018 the Commission set out the changes it intends to introduce to the Commission's policy-making process as a result of the Task Force recommendations.
In late 2018/early 2019, the Commission took stock of better regulation since 2015. The aim was to identify what is working well or less well and bring the agenda forward. We have reviewed the literature and sought the views of the public, staff from the other EU institutions as well as Commission staff.
The external and internal consultations have been the centrepiece of this stocktaking. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed, especially the 596 people and organisations who took part in the public consultation.
On 15 April 2019, the College of Commissioners adopted a Commission communication describing the Better Regulation Agenda, discussing its strengths and shortcomings, and identifying possible avenues for progress. This communication is accompanied by a staff working document summarising the results of the stocktaking, in particular the extensive consultations in facts and figures.
On 29 April 2019, the Commission organised a full-day conference in Brussels on the stocktaking of the Better Regulation Agenda.
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.
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 is also part of bilateral free trade agreements, such as EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
Did you know that everybody can contribute to EU policy-making? Watch the video and discover how to make your voice heard.
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