This independent blog collects news about projects or achievements in regulatory reform / better regulation. It is edited by Charles H. Montin. All opinions expressed are given on a personal basis.
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01 November 2016

Update on simplification in France

The French government presented on 26 October a new batch of simplification measures, bringing the total over three years to 650, most of which are claimed to be already operational.
Three measures are highlighted as particularly helpful and burden-reducing for the three target populations of the policy: businesses, citizens, local authorities:

1/ Simplified procurement: Businesses can now bid for public contracts using only their number Siret for identification. This should save two hours on each application, with annual savings amounting to tens of millions of euros for businesses and the public service. This simplification implements the "Tell Us Once"  principle, which rules the exchange of data, documents and certificates between administrations, sparing companies the hassle of producing several times the same information.

2/ Citizens: The "mes-aides.gouv.fr" simulator :The online simulator helps would-be beneficiaries to identify social benefits which they are entitled and to calculate the amounts after filling out a form on family status, level of resources, housing conditions.. Following the personalised estimation, the user may apply to the right government agency. This service aims to fight against the non-use of social assistance by more vulnerable members of the public.

3/ Saving for local sports' facilities: reducing the requirements for draining public swimming pools from twice to once a year. The expected savings are estimated between 6 and 9 million per year.

30 November 2015

New textbook on regulatory policy

Earlier this month, OCDE published a new reference book for members of our community: the first edition of the OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2015. This magnum opus summarizes 10 years of experience in designing and applying better rules and regulations to achieve economic and societal policy objectives. A press release summarizes the approach and the main conclusions, but experts will need to download the full material, which includes, to illustrate and give practical impact to each dimension (RIA, simplification, regulatory costs, etc), best national practices.

(From the press release): "The report finds that 33 of the 34 OECD countries have adopted an explicit regulatory policy and require regulatory impact assessments and public consultation for all new regulations, while 29 have a designated minister to promote regulatory reform.
However, a third of OECD countries have no policy at all on regulatory compliance and enforcement, and two-thirds have no system for evaluating laws once they are implemented. This creates unnecessary costs for businesses and society, the report says.
Internationally, co-operation in law-making is essential for creating global rules and standards, addressing trade frictions and environmental risks, and reducing the risk of regulatory failures such as the 2008 financial crisis or the recent VW emission tests scandal. Yet only a third of OECD countries have a clear policy for international regulatory co‑operation."

Joint letter pressing EC for sectoral redution targets

The Competitiveness Council is holding today 30 November a meeting where ways and means of speeding up reforms to the single market are expected to be discussed and perhaps agreed. A widely supported initiative from the UK, now uniting 19 of the Member States including France and Germany, is spelling out the reform agenda in a joint letter dated 26 November now published in final format, to assist VP Timmermans achieve consensus on the way forward.
A blog post dated 1 October summarizes the letter with useful comments and incidentally shows the outcome of some last-minute lobbying by the UK, including the notion that "Britain is pushing for a series of EU reforms, as the price for Prime Minister David Cameron's support for continued membership of the bloc in the "Brexit" referendum. He has called for measures to improve EU regulation, reducing administrative costs for businesses, and to bolster the bloc's competitiveness." They include the idea of sectoral targets ("EU reduction targets in particularly burdensome areas.") Our thanks to Julian Farrel for pointing out this relevant initiative. See also EC website on Better Regulation.

10 September 2015

Better Regulation still needs to convince Health stakeholders

Health community representatives seem far from convinced by the EC's Better Regulation policy, if those who spoke at the EPHA conference last week are to be believed.
Ms Christina Colclough, from UNI Europa (trade union for private employees) told how "disappointed" her organisation was with BR for not tackling the main challenges to Europe, including that of raising social standards.
Ms Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth, regretted that an excessive focus on administrative burdens, instead of the benefits of legislation, which made the EC's agenda look like a Business Europe position.
Ms Florence Berteletti, director of Smokefree Partnership, reminded the audience that industry lobbies were behind the adoption of RIA, a thesis researched by Dr Katherine Smith, in a report launched in the European Parliament in 2010 (see blog post).
On the other hand DG Santé representative and your blogger were given the time to defend a more positive reading of the recent Commission BR package, and Ms Tamsin Rose (Friends of Europe think-tank), pointed out that BR should reduce the irrationality of policy-making. 
Moderator Nina Renshaw, secretary general of EPHA, was able to wrap-up with some forward-looking conclusions:
- BR and RIA were an opportunity that the Health stakeholders should embrace and make heard the voice of their communities in the policy-making process at EU level. 
- the cost of doing nothing option should always be assessed (such as the cost of doing nothing to provide health care to migrants)
- BR should be used to increase the accountability of politicians when pursuing policies not supported by evidence.
See also post on calling the conference (below).

04 August 2015

Better Regulation to support better health

Better Regulation has always found in Health issues a rich terrain to test the effectiveness of the solutions it offers the economy and society. See the 23 posts of this blog under the Health category.
Our community will have a new opportunity to identify current trends and update our principles and tools, at the Annual conference of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), "Europe's leading NGO advocating for better health," to be held in Brussels on 2-3 September 2015.
The theme of the conference "Towards a European Union for Health - From Health in All Policies to EU Governance for Health and Well-Being?" will give rise to a number of panels and discussions, including one entitled: "Better Regulation for Better Health? Mainstreaming public health into the EU's agenda." The conumdrum is defined as: "Better Regulation is now an even greater priority for the European Commission through the REFIT process. Where does this leave broader issues of labour rights, health and safety, environmental protection or public goods that are perceived as sources of administrative burdens? "
Your blogger has been invited to speak, presumably to explain the benefits of BR to a panel and audience probably impatient with simplification and burden reduction efforts (judging by the wording of the issue). 
Also follow Alberto Alemanno, the great risk and regulation expert, who will fly our colours in the session on "Europe and Chronic Diseases : challenges accepted, lessons learned, ways forward"
Stay tuned for the outcome by visiting http://goo.gl/Ec51QS @EPHA_EU

04 July 2015

New Regulatory Scrutiny Board (EC)

The Regulatory Scrutiny Board provides a central quality control and support function for Commission impact assessment and evaluation work. It was set up on 1 July 2015 and replaced the Impact Assessment Board.
The Board examines and issues opinions on all the Commission's draft impact assessments and of major evaluations and "fitness checks" of existing legislation. In principle, a positive opinion is needed from the Board for an initiative accompanied by an impact assessment to be tabled for adoption by the Commission. The opinion accompanies the draft initiative together with the impact assessment throughout the Commission's political decision-making. All impact assessments and all related RSB opinions are published once the Commission has adopted the relevant proposal. Evaluation/"fitness check" reports and the related opinions are also published.
The Board is independent of the policy making departments. It is chaired at Director General level. In addition to the Chair, the Board consists of three high-level Commission officials and three members who are recruited from outside the Commission, selected on the basis of their expertise. All members work for the Board full time, with no other policy responsibilities. Until all members of the Board have been appointed, the members of the previous Impact Assessment Board will act as interim members of the Board.
More information on the structure and functioning of the Board can be found in the Better Regulation package documents 'Decision on the Establishment of an Independent Regulatory Scrutiny Board'

01 July 2015

RIA in Ireland, ten years on

Tom Ferris, a Consultant Economist, recaps current practice and implementation of RIA over the pas ten years on his blog (also on tinyurl.com/pai-ria ) . He suggests that there is room for improvement, as we enter a second decade "In 2010, the OECD published a report on Better Regulation in Ireland. One of its conclusions was that the RIA process in Ireland continued to operate within a weak institutional framework which does not sufficiently "scare" departments into co-operating for the production of quality RIAs. Against this background, there is a good case to be made for having a central RIA scrutiny facility, which publishes its findings, similar to the EU's Regulatory Scrutiny Board. This would help to ensure that RIAs fulfil quality standards. There is little point in having RIAs produced merely as a box-ticking exercise. Their true value lies in helping Government to make decisions by providing evidence-based RIAs, which measure the positive and negative effects of different options for regulatory change."