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.
Background on regulatory quality, see "Archive" tab. To be regularly informed or share your news, join the Smart Regulation Group on LinkedIn: 1,300 members, or register as follower.

28 May 2010

Council green lights simplification of construction products marketing

During a public debate yesterday, the Competitiveness Council reached a political agreement on a draft regulation simplifying and clarifying the conditions for marketing construction products in the internal market (9459/10). The draft will now go to second reading in the EP. The Commission proposal is part of the simplification rolling programme (p.39).
The proposed regulation aims to clarify the basic concepts and the use of "CE marking" and introduce simplified procedures to reduce the costs incurred by enterprises.The discussion addressed i.a. possible impact of the declaration of performance on SME's and micro-enterprises and the compatibility of the declaration of performance with better regulation principles.

26 May 2010

EU COR tackles multi-level BR challenge

The difficulty to improve regulatory quality in countries where sub-national entities share regulatory power with the central state is one of the less explored avenues of better regulation. In this context, we can welcome a sign that the issue may soon be attracting attention at the Committee of Regions of the European Union. This recent powerpoint presentation outlines some of the main questions that need to be addressed.
For regulatory management issues, the concept of multi-level governance is understood as the exercise of authority and other types of relations across levels of government, which have undergone big changes with the widespread demand for decentralisation. For background, it is best to read the OECD recent report on multi-level governance (co-authored by L. Allio), which examines the trends that have made governance of public policies both more complex and more demanding, involving multiple actors (public but also private) and requiring a rethinking of how central and sub-national governments should collaborate. See also report by M. H. Fandel and F. Zuleeg "multi-level governance: the new frontier for European Better Regulation" on the IRRC network (membership required).

The Commission's Digital Agenda

Among the tools for improving the quality of regulation, e-gov is often mentioned as one of the most powerful. With this in mind, BR experts should take a look at the Commission communication on the Digital Agenda, published 19 May, as it concerns the infrastructure and standards of the building blocks of e-gov.This programme is one of the seven flagship initiatives of the EU2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Of particular interest to us is the digital single market component. There is still a lot to do to de-fragment national digital markets, for instance by creating a single legal download solution for music. Europeans would also greatly benefit from improved cross-border on-line shopping. This could have significant impacts on the simplicity and enforcement of EU law: until now, dealing with red tape of 27 digital markets has prevented many companies from expanding across borders. There is a lively debate going on at present on the possible contribution of this strategy, see for instance the Euractiv page as entry point.

RR expert draws lessons from Eyjafjallajökull

As predicted by this blog, the regulatory risk experts are starting to draw lessons from the Icelandic volcano eruptions and the resulting disruptions on air travel.
Alberto Alemano will be providing, in the next issue of the European Journal of Risk Regulation (expected in the coming days), an analysis of the regulatory answer developed across Europe in the aftermath of the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. In the meantime, a preview is available online, attempting to answer, on the spur of the moment, a few questions: Who did the assessment of the hazard posed by volcanic ash to jetliners? Who was competent to take risk management decisions, such as the controversial flight bans? Is it true that the safe level of volcanic ash was zero? How to explain the shift to a new safety threshold (of 2,000 mg/m3) only five days after the event? Did regulators overact? To what extent did they manage the perceived risk rather than the actual one? Fascinating reading for us BR experts. Thank you Alberto !

20 May 2010

New report on Risk Governance Deficits

The international risk governance council (IRGC) has informed this blog that they had published a "Policy brief " on risk  governance deficits, defined as specific elements of risk governance where processes often fail. This policy brief is a follow-up to a report (published in autumn 2009), which was supported by detailed case studies (23) illustrating the impact of deficits on some past risk issues. It highlights aspects that may assist decision-makers in the evaluation of their own organisation's risk governance capability .
The next step:  IRGC is now focussing on emerging risks  – issues that are perceived to be potentially significant but which may not be fully identified, understood and assessed, thus not allowing risk management options to be developed with confidence. The aim is to develop practical guidelines for practitioners in business and the public sector to help them improve their own capabilities to anticipate and respond early to emerging risks.

19 May 2010

BR approach to bio-waste (Commission)

In a press release circulated yesterday, the Commission promotes, for a specific area of EU law, better implementation of existing texts, rather than adding new rules to the corpus. Speaking about the management of bio waste, Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said:   "We already have a significant body of legislation governing bio-waste in the EU. But through better implemention and enforcement, we can squeeze even more benefit from bio-waste."

17 May 2010

What are the principles of better regulation?

When examining regulatory quality, experts often refer to the principles, which are supposed to guide regulators when setting up policies, institutions and tools. But where can one find these principles, and what good are they? The three most frequently quoted sets are given below, subject to comment and improvements from readers:

New research into impact assessment (health risk legislation).

Following the 24 February conference organised by Smokefree Partnership concerning the evolution of Better Regulation and risk assessment in the EU, Dr Katherine Smith (U. of Bath) has informed this blog of the publication of an article concerning impact assessment in the EU, entitled 'Is the increasing policy use of Impact Assessment in Europe likely to undermine efforts to achieve healthy public policy?'

12 May 2010

Proceeds of Feb. conference on EU Better Regulation

Smokefree Partnership inform this blog that they have published the report of the 24 February conference, on "EU Better Regulation - from economic to citizen-centric? " which may be of interest to BR experts.

10 May 2010

SNE job for RIA expert

The position is advertised online on several national sites (example of such a posting).  During secondment, incumbents continue to be paid by their home administration. The deadline for application (via Perm Reps in most cases is 15 June 2010. Before applying, candidates shoud check conditions of service.

07 May 2010

Walloons commit again to simplification

I attended this morning an impressive conference on simplification organised by Wallonia and the French community, two of the six federated entities in Belgium, serving 3.4 million French speaking Belgians (total population 10.5m). In such a complex instutional setup (two governements and two parliaments just for the francophones) simplifiers have their work cut out for them ! Ministers and senior officials met with stakeholders to present the administrative simplification and egov programmes adopted in February 2010. They were also endeavouring to drum up support for implementation. A dedicated website ("ensemble simplifions") publishes the results of a vast consultation and a wealth of official documents which are quite overwhelming. Each government publishes its list of measures, under six general objectives (simplify the law, reduce burdens for instance), distinguishing horizontal and specific changes to administrative procedures. There is a heavy egov bias, and an emphasis on correct use of the French language. The programmes include commitments to funding and monitoring. Chances of delivery are increased by the merging of the hitherto separate simplification agencies of the two executives into a single entity, with its own website Easi-Wal.
At the federal level, there is also a simplification programme run by an Agency for Administrative Simplification and a website (Kafka.be) which seems discontinued.

05 May 2010

New insights from OECD on quality regulation

Lorenzo Allio, an independent consultant and member of our network of experts, has been authorized to publish his personal summary of recent developments at the second meeting of the Regulatory Policy Committee, which contain some valuable indications as to how regulatory quality will be promoted by the new Committee.
Also from OECD: a very interesting synthesis of current thinking on "Risk and Regulatory Policy", published 27 April 2010.

Spain publishes SCM results and AB reductions

Ignacio Gafo is known to BR experts for his presentation in Stockholm Bertelsman conference on the Spanish results in cutting red tape (caution 30Mb).
As project coordinator, he recently informed us about the final report of the operation, which is online on the Spanish confederation of employers site. It is only in Spanish for the moment, but a translation will soon be available. In the meantime, here are a few specific traits of the Spanish SCM (unofficial summary):
  • AB measurement was delivered by way of a joint programme between the government and two business organisations (employers and small business) to implement the 4/5/2007 national reduction target of 30% by2012 and the 20/6/2008 action programme; a network of 130 companies, set up for the project, was instrumental in gathering the data and supplying reduction ideas (good consultation);
  • it addresses six priority areas: company law, tax, statistics, public procurement, environment, employment relations/working conditions. (defined by reference to the EU Action plan priority areas);
  • measurement was immediately followed by the elaboration of 125 reduction measures, assessed as saving companies €3.3 bn(0.3% of GDP), which supplement the 159 measures already decided in council of ministers; were noted as particular irritants the stats information obligations;
  • the 85 pages report seems to contain all the usual components of a methodical SCM operation; general conclusions (p.61) include i.a.: business may have perceived a slight reduction of burden recently, but newly introduced online procedures have added new information obligations; administrations need to coordinate their requirements; in spite of the simplification effort, growing complexity seems inevitable; various methodological improvements are necessary;
  • a new project is underway to review 15 additional priority areas.
Thank you and congratulations, Ignacio !

E-gov in support of better regulation

E-government is not often listed as a better regulation tool. However, when online procedures assist citizens and companies to comply with regulation, this is a direct contribution to enforcement, raises compliance rates, reduces irritation, all of which help enhance the quality of regulation as we understand it. In some cases, eServices also reinforce the Single Market. Such a contribution was clearly recognised by the Malmö Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment (November 2009) "(European governements) should use eGovernment to increase their efficiency and effectiveness and to constantly improve public services in a way that caters for users' different needs and maximises public value, thus supporting the transition of Europe to a leading knowledge-based economy.".
The European Commission's HLG AB (Stoiber-group) has emphasised the need for eGov solutions in almost all of the "opinions" by which it advises the European Commission. The opinions have also emphasised that eServices lead to burden reductions only if adapted to business needs. And without any burden reduction, no high uptake (- and lower benefits for public sector).The HLG AB (Stoiber-group) has emphasised the need for eGov solutions in almost all of the "opinions" by which they advise the European Commission. They have also emphasised that eServices lead to burden reductions only if adapted to business needs. And without any burden reduction, no high uptake (- and lower benefits for public sector).
Furthermore it is also important to make sure that new / revised legislation promotes and facilitates the use of ICT.The Commission (led by DG INFSO) is now preparing a eGov Action Plan for 2011-2015, based on the objectives in the declaration and in collaboration and coordination with the MSs. This will be part of the wider Digital Agenda for 2020 embracing wider ICT aspects. Find out more on the i2020 (the EU policy framework for information society and media) and EU2020 (Lisbon strategy successor) pages on Europa (with K. Bjorke and W. Carrara).

04 May 2010

France continues to streamline regulatory process

The major vector for change within public administrations in France is the general review of public policies, launched in 2007 by President Sarkozy.
The recently published 3rd progress report for the Prime Minister's department is particularly interesting as it concerns the body most closely involved in regulatory production. It contains a good description of recent achievements, and illustrates the "French way" of reforming the regulatory cycle which places great emphasis on fighting "legislative inflation". The reports also tackle other issues such as duplication of services or inefficiencies. These "modernisation" reports are also available for other ministries .

Clinical trial directive under fire

In addition to yesterday's post on recent SANCO BR activity, another of the major pieces of EU legislation on pharmaceuticals is in the line of fire: the clinical trials directive, described as "arguably the most criticised piece of legislation" the EU has ever produced on medicines", and other unflattering comments. This legal act was listed among those in scope of the Commission's Action Programme for reducing administrative burdens, but no proposal for simplification has yet been put forward. This may be about to change. See clinical trial page on Europa for reference to consultation results and roadmap of reform, and excellent Euractiv dossier of today.

03 May 2010

DG SANCO applies BR principles to pharmaceuticals

Following the transfer to DG SANCO, an early subscriber to BR, of the responsibility for pharmaceutical legislation in the new Commission, what news?
Two measures published on Europa seem to apply better regulation principles to existing dossiers:
31/3/2010: With a view to create more transparency and predictability for the stakeholders concerned, DG SANCO makes available a note on handling of duplicate marketing authorisation applications under Article 82(1) of Regulation (EC) No 726/2004.
19/4/2010: SANCO launches a public consultation on the legal framework for veterinary pharmaceuticlas, inspired by Better regulation. The question is: "how to put in place a simpler legal framework, safeguarding public and animal health while increasing the competitiveness of companies".