Measures announced to improve EU legislative process

We hear all the time about the burden of regulation and the impact of regulation on small business. The European Commission announced a package of measures under its Better Regulation Agenda to reduce the regulatory burden on small firms.

02/06/2015, latest thinking

The measures include strengthening the Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) programme and introducing longer consultation periods for new regulations. An independent Regulatory Scrutiny Board will also replace the Commission's existing Impact Assessment Board. The new board will check the quality of impact assessments for new regulations, as well as carry out fitness checks and evaluations of existing legislation. 70% of Europeans believe that the EU generates too many regulatory burdens. First Vice President Frans Timmermans said:

"This Commission is determined to change both what the Union does and how it does it. Better regulation is therefore one of our top priorities. We are listening to the concerns of citizens and businesses – especially SMEs - who worry that Brussels and its institutions don't always deliver rules they can understand or apply. We want to restore their confidence in the EU's ability to deliver high quality legislation. Better regulation is not about "more" or "less" EU rules, or undermining our high social and environmental standards, our health or our fundamental rights. Better regulation is about making sure we deliver on the ambitious policy goals we have set ourselves in the most efficient way."

"We must rigorously assess the impact of legislation in the making, including substantial amendments introduced during the legislative process, so that political decisions are well-informed and evidence-based. And while the natural tendency of politicians is to focus on new initiatives, we must devote at least as much attention to reviewing existing laws and identifying what can be improved or simplified. We must be honest about what works and what doesn't. The decisions taken by EU Institutions interest us all, so we are putting forward measures which will open up the EU's decision-making process, allowing for more transparency and scrutiny, and providing more opportunities for people to give their views."

They have promised more transparency and consultation, to keep existing laws under review, better impact assessments and quality control and a new IIA for a shared commitment by EU institutions. Exemplas welcomes this commitment to review existing legislation under the Regulatory Fitness and Performance  Programme with a view to making it more efficient without compromising policy objectives. However we must be careful that this systematic review does not inadvertently disadvantage small businesses. Changes in regulation can have unintended and far reaching consequences. So understanding what the changes would really mean for the UK economy and our small businesses is vital to ensuring the best future outcome. It is this understanding and knowledge of the true implications of our decisions which should inform the proposed review of regulations. Involving small businesses and experts in the review process will help to make sure that the regulations that do exist are fit for purpose and support and protect small business rather than simply removing one problem to create another.

Read more about the Better Regulation Agenda