Published On: Wed, May 20th, 2015

Six measures to make the better regulation project work

Guest blogpost from Pavel Telicka, Vice-President of the European Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament.

This Commission has promised the European citizens better regulation. The European Liberals and democrats support this Commission in its endeavour to make European rules clear, simple and effective. Pavel Telicka, 2. Vice President of the ALDE Group proposes the following six measures.

  1. Reduce burdens for SMEs

First, the regulatory burden on small and medium sized companies (SMEs) needs to be reduced. Many SMEs are faced with a burdensome impact of EU rules. To mitigate the problem any new directive or regulation coming from Brussels, needs to be accompanied by a review of its impact on SMEs. The same procedure has to be applied to review or replacement of existing regulation. We also want the Commission to look closely at the British one-in-one-out principle which ensures that burden does not increase and consider exemptions for micro-enterprises and freelancerswherever possible.

  1. Impact assessments in the whole policy cycle

The second step is to review the current system of ‘impact assessment’s’ of (new) regulation. Not only should all legislative drafts be scrutinised on matters like competitiveness and consequences for SMEs, but also result in a clear outcome in terms of benefits and costs. Proportionality and added value have to be ensured. These analyses should be undertaken not just by the Commission but also by the European Parliament and the Council, as they usually try to amend the original proposal of the Commission. One external regulatory scrutiny body is needed for this policy cycle to safeguard the quality of the impact assessments done by the three EU institutions.

  1. Engage with the public

Next to these adjustments, the EU should actively engage the general public in the policy making process. Not just with an obligatory ‘stakeholder dialogue’ which often results in lobbyists sending in their predictable position papers. But rather with an online ‘European Stakeholder Forum’ which is accessible to all. Such a bottom-up approach is necessary to make people willing to take part in EU law making. And that means that the Stakeholder Forum will also give the opportunity for all kinds of interest groups to have their say on that may not be (yet) on the Brussels’ agenda, give suggestions where to cut red tape, and to send in proposals where and how to fix existing legislation. Consultations have to be possible throughout the legislative process.

  1. Make debates and documents public 

Engaging does not happen without a full amount of transparency. The EU is still keeping a lot of its policy process secret and behind closed doors. So as a fourth point, ALDE urges Europe’s institutions to ensure full transparency and disclose as many documents as possible, and making Council debates public when we can. Citizens should know why a certain member state is blocking a vote in the European Council, or why a certain group in the Parliament is hesitant to consider reform. The informal and hugely popular ‘trilogue’ negotiations between Commission, Council and Parliament may lead to faster legislation procedures, but are undermining Europe’s democracy at an alarming rate. So these trilogues need to be transparent instead of secretive.

  1. Stop the gold-plating

Once new legislation has been agreed upon in Brussels, the member states usually have a few years to transpose it into their legal system. And that is where improvement is possible. Often member states exceed the mandatory provisions in the EU directives by adding additional members – this process is called ‘gold-plating’. But when as a result, local building projects are shut down because too much fine dust is thrown in the air, Brussels is not to blame – the gold plating member state is.

This is why we should follow the practice in the United Kingdom, which directly transposes EU directives straight into national law without adding rules. In such a way, burdens are minimised and we keep a ‘level playing field’ for implementing new European rules throughout the Union.

  1. Make rules future-proof

Finally, new laws need built-in flexibility. The economy and society are changing at breakneck speed and lawmakers are unable to keep up, especially in the digital domain. So next to being written in ‘technologically neutral’ language, EU legislation should have built-in review clauses and in some cases even sunset clauses, so that rules should not remain valid indefinitely.

The better regulation project is one of the key projects of the Juncker Commission. It is of paramount importance that it delivers results. It is now or never. We are the Commission’s partner to make this better regulation agenda a success and we urge the Commission to take our proposals on board.

Please find the ALDE position paper on better regulation on www.alde.eu

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