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01 December 2010

Senate slams National Assembly simplification bill

For many experts, France stands for the model of unswerving dedication to legal simplification, in answer to its “normative inflation”, with Italy the country that invented the simplification laws. Now after six years of intensive practice, has the simplification machinery run amok?  A recent report by the economic committee rapporteur of the Senate provides a bit of soul-searching. Under the title “Oeuvre utile ou illusion dangereuse? “ (useful work or a dangerous illusion), he signs a highly critical text showing how complex it has become to draft simplification measures. The senator criticizes the lack of justification and explanation, the absence of any impact assessment (contrary to the new rules),  the limited time for discussion. There had been signs that the procedure may have been running out of steam, the government having first given signs of weariness by transferring the onus of preparing the texts to Parliament. It is not clear against whom the severe indictment of the Senate is directed: though it primarily concerns the draft from the National Assembly, the ills seem to be inherent in the whole law-making system and responsibility shared by all the institutions.
An involuntary illustration of the problems denounced by the senator is given by the recent draft revised budget bill for 2010. Hidden in a 272 pages long bill, a number of simplification measures concerning tax and customs are well presented, with some justification. But the subject matter is so complex that the simplification will only be visible to the experts.

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