What is the Innovation Principle?

The Innovation Principle is a tool to help achieve EU policy objectives by ensuring that legislation is designed in a way that creates the best possible conditions for innovation to flourish.

The principle means that in future when the Commission develops new initiatives it will take into account the effect on innovation.

This will ensure that all new EU policy or regulations support innovation and that the regulatory framework in Europe is innovation-friendly.

Innovation Principle in the policy-making cycle

The ambition is that the Innovation Principle will cover the entire 3 phases of the policy-making cycle.

1st phase: agenda-setting

The possible effects of emerging technologies on EU rules should be scrutinised early in the legislative process as part of the Innovation Principle.

Examples of this include artificial intelligence or block chain, where the new technologies are likely to introduce changes to legislation.

2nd phase: legislation

New EU legislative initiatives should respond to the needs of innovative companies.

This means providing data and evidence for impact assessments, consulting innovators and taking their suggestions for drafting legislation into account.

3rd phase: implementation

The Commission offers Innovation Deals to deal with existing EU rules.

These identify if an EU rule or regulation is an obstacle to innovation and if so, help to find solutions.

How Innovation Deals work, current deals and news

How the principle was established - documents

Staff working document on better regulations

Published in February 2016 this is the first Commission document to outline the concept of an Innovation Principle.

Staff working document on better regulations

Competitiveness Council conclusions

Following the publication of the staff working document, the Competitiveness Council adopted two sets of conclusions related to innovation and regulation.

This was the first political endorsement of an Innovation Principle by the Council.

European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) note

The EPSC note published in June 2016 explores the treaties and finds that endorsement of an Innovation Principle is implicit in the treaties. The note outlines some instruments that could be used to implement it.

The Commission took some of these recommendations on board when revising the research and innovation tool.

Towards an Innovation Principle endorsed by better regulation

European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) opinion

This opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee highly supports the Innovation Principle and suggests that it should have the same status as more established legislative principles (subsidiarity, proportionality, precautionary etc.)

The opinion also says that the Innovation Principle should not take precedence over these other principles.

Opinion of European Economic and Social Committee on future proof legislation

Research and innovation tool

To better integrate innovation into the EU regulatory framework, the revision of the research and innovation tool was finalised and published in June 2017 along with the rest of the better regulation guidelines.

They set out the principles that the Commission follows when preparing new initiatives and proposals and when managing and evaluating existing legislation.

The guidelines apply to each phase of the law-making cycle.

The tool provides clear guidelines for analysing the interaction between new or revised EU legislation (including spending programmes) and innovation during impact assessment.

It also outlines a series of design considerations and operational instruments that can be used to make legislative proposals more forward-looking and innovation-friendly.

Better regulation toolbox 21 - research and innovation