The conference was very rich in content, and covered all the current dimensions of the theme, with a real attempt to map out new directions for further development. With its new concept, smart regulation, the European Commission was perhaps at the core of the most significant trend. Cooperation between this institution and OECD was also highlighted with the launch of the “EU15” series of BR reviews. All the key European players were supporting the event: Bertelsmann, the European Belgian Presidency, the Swedish NNR.
Bearing in mind previous similar events (such as the Bertelsmann Nov 2009 conference and its 2008 predecessor) what new ground was broken? My answer would be the adjustment of regulatory policy to deliver updated policy outcomes.
- The first consequence is the increased relevance of ex-post evaluation as a prerequisite step for new legislation. It is the most significant change in the newly developed “smart regulation” of the Commission, and it was suggested it became even become stage 1 in the regulatory cycle (or loop) that we could now close. The idea had already been brought up in 2009, but is now coming of age. Similarly J. Dodds (from the UK) pointed out that better regulators had to focus more on policy outcomes, to justify the resources devoted to regulatory management. This idea is linked the UK “benefits of regulation” project.
- The second consequence is the stress on regulatory policy’s possible contribution to updated outcomes, such as innovation and green growth, as underlined by the Secretary General Angel Gurria in his introductory speech. “Both innovation and green growth are high on the policy agenda, and rightly so. (…) In both areas, regulatory policy has a key role to play. Good regulation enables innovation. It favours the growth of highly innovative small firms, by cutting red tape and administrative burdens. But what kind of regulations will foster green growth? This is one of the topics for discussion at this conference, where we are bringing together experts from the environmental and regulatory policy communities”.
At a more technical level, the conference did broach some other topics that may not have been addressed before with such force: “mapping sustainability” (=long term impacts), “governance in regulatory oversight”, social impacts of regulations.