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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23 September 2010

News from the interinstitutional agreement

6 September 2010:  A report on the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission was presented by MEP Paulo Rangel.  According to the press release , the new inter-institutional agreement reinforces EP powers and raises it to be a political actor on an equal footing with the Council and the Commission: the principle of the division of powers is taking shape in the EU.
With the entry-into-force of the Lisbon Treaty, it had become necessary to revise the Framework Agreement, as it defines the relations between the EU institutions in a period in which the European Parliament has obtained strengthened powers, especially in the legislative process.  The Framework Agreement deals with issues such as the political responsibility of both institutions, the circulation of information between them, the external relations, the enlargement and international agreements, the implementation of the budget, the political and legislative programme of the Commission and the multiannual programme of the Union, the legislative competence and specific implementation powers of the Commission, the control of the application of Community law and the participation of the Committee in the parliamentary works, among others.  The MEP writes: "The powers which are traditionally assigned to the Parliament, based on the principle of the division of powers", and highlighted that the European Parliament is becoming a true Parliament and that evolution "represents not only a repetition of history, since we, in the 21st century, are facing battles of affirmation of the parliaments which already struggled in the 18th and 19th centuries. Therefore, this is of great importance not only for the democratic control of the EU, but also of great interest to political science", underlined Rangel.
For a more balanced analysis of the issue, including Council objections, see Euractiv article. (à suivre)

ECA presenting its report on RIA on 28 Sept.

The long-expected report (a preview was available for some time on the Council website, as reported by this blog), will soon be public.
Impact Assessment is one of the cornerstones of the European Commission’s Better Regulation policy. The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has analysed whether impact assessments have supported decision-making in the EU institutions. The main conclusions and recommendations of the Special Report will be presented to the press by Mr Henri Grethen, a Member of the European Court of Auditors, on September 2010 at 10 a.m. See online invitation.

EP on BR: business as usual

On 9 September 2010, the European Parliament adopted its annual resolution of on better lawmaking, on the basis of the 15th annual report from the Commission pursuant to Article 9 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.
This document is useful as a recapitulation of current issues and trends, but does not include any new insights, and does not show the EP as particularly innovative. Actually, by using the same concepts as in previous years (there is no mention of smart regulation), and not volunteering any new development, the report, which follows a predetermined format, looks somewhat conservative, or at least prudent, as for instance its comment on alternatives to legislation
(the EP) “46. Warns against abandoning necessary legislation in favour of self-regulation or co-regulation or any other non-legislative measure; believes that the consequences of such choices should be subject to careful examination in each case, in accordance with Treaty law and the roles of the individual institutions;
47. Stresses, at the same time, that soft law should be applied with the greatest of care and on a duly justified basis, without undermining legal certainty and the clarity of existing legislation, and after consultation of Parliament as underlined in its resolution on a revised Framework Agreement”
No progress is made on how the Parliament would examine impacts of substantive amendments to Commission proposals.
There are, however, some encouraging ideas:
- An invitation to the Commission to clarify the content of the smart regulation agenda;
- Support to the idea that Commission impact assessments should be reviewed by an independent body;
- An invitation to the Commission to provide a two to four page summary of its impact assessments.

"Common commencement dates" arrive in France.

In a speech delivered on 17 September at a formal prize-giving ceremony to reward SME leaders, the French Prime minister F. Fillon announced a series of measures which aim to simplify the regulatory environment in which small companies operate, to boost their international competitiveness:
- Common commencement dates (CCD): the PM has indicated that “to limit regulatory instability”, he wished that new rules concerning business should be introduced on a “very limited” number of dates in the year, with the objective of reducing those dates to two a year. CCD are now part of the arsenal of measures that the countries most advanced in regulatory management strive to implement. Examples: the UK (two dates a year), the European Commission (this link offers a good analysis of the issue), the Netherlands and Denmark;
- A new senior official in charge of « reviewing draft legislation for new burdens on business”. Located in the PM’s office, the new commissioner will be in charge of checking that new regulation does not cause excessive burdens, especially for SMEs; starting with accounting rules, he will make sure that new rules are “manifestly indispensable” and proportionate to the size of the companies. The Employers Federation (MEDEF) had recently also created such a position.
These measures had been outlined by President Sarkozy in March, in a speech on industrial policy but had not yet been implemented.

21 September 2010

Stakeholder input on what Smart Regulation should be

The European Commission conducted a stakeholder consultation from April to June to to collect input for a communication on Smart Regulation which will be published this autumn. The communication will present the Commission's priorities for Smart Regulation, as announced in the President's political guidelines of autumn 2009.
The EC has recently published online the 79 contributions received from citizens, organisations and public authorities: a summary report and the Commission's response will be published at some time, but in the meantime, the contributions make for interesting reading.

French PM wants to boost competitiveness

Friend-of-this-blog Denis Besnainou (European Commission) informs us that the French government has yesterday made a firm commitment in favour of competitiveness, "inseparable from the rebalancing of public finances". This may not be much news to non-French experts, but in France, this does look like unchartered territory, not to say adopting "anglo-saxon prejudices".
The full news item develops the connection between entrepreneurship, as supported by the French government, and competitiveness, with the claim that thanks to R&D, innnovation and various public incentive schemes, especially for SMEs, France's position is now second in Europe for FDI.