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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19 December 2013

Empowering and overseing economic regulators (India)

An interesting update on regulatory reform in India is provided by an article by the India Times dated 13 Dec. (extract) "The government has given its go ahead to the proposed Draft Regulatory Reform Bill, 2013 which aims to make regulators across key infrastructure sectors accountable to the Parliament besides giving them power of licensing."The Prime Minister's Office gave its go-ahead to the bill last week. The bill is now up for consultation with various stakeholders and once it is finalised it may be taken up in Parliament during the budget session," a senior official told ET, requesting anonymity. The bill aims to fill a lacuna since India does not have a law to monitor the functioning of a large number of regulatory authorities existing in the country. The draft bill will apply to key sectors such as electricity, oil and gas, coal, telecommunications and internet, broadcasting and cable television, posts, airports, ports, waterways, railways, mass rapid transit system, highways and water supply, and sanitation." The overall operation of the regulator will be subject to scrutiny by the Parliament on a yearly basis. 
Three days later, the Indian Express makes a unenthusiastic assessment of this development: "Given that the government hasn't been able to muster the courage to bring its regulatory reform bill to Parliament for the last four years, it is difficult to see how it will happen this time around, though the bill is now to be circulated among ministries for their comments. At its heart, the bill seeks to take away from ministries the discretionary powers to award and cancel licenses, and plans to give them to professionally run regulatory commissions which, as is the case today, will have appellate tribunals to ensure that those unhappy with the decisions get a chance to appeal them."

4th report on administrative reform (France)

In France the pace of public administration reform (PAR) is sustained by the regular statements from the high-level (interministerial) committee on public service modernisation CIMAP. The fourth meeting on 18 December has provided a status report and a list of new initiatives, with a focus on policy evaluation rather than regulatory reform. Page 11 of the press release lists administrative simplification measures for business and the public, to be achieved without legal changes. The Finance ministry also published on 16 December a short note on "complexity as perceived by business" and a series of graphs in ppt format. These documents confirm that the French approach to administrative burdens remains based on perception surveys rather than measurement operations. Another specific trait of French PAR is the priority given to improving internal communication with staff. This is the analysis developped by Acteurs Publics, an independent observer, of the new web-based consultation of stakeholders Faire-simple.gouv.fr.

16 December 2013

Rapport sur les charges réglementaires en Suisse

Nicolas Wallart, membre suisse de Smart Regulation, nous informe de la parution d'un rapport qui évalue les coûts de la réglementation dans 12 domaines en Suisse (charges totales, pas seulement les coûts administratifs). On arrive à 10 milliards de Fr. ou 1.7% du PIB. Le rapport contient également un paquet de 32 mesures d'allégement. Le rapport est disponible en français, allemand et italien. 
Voir l'excellent résumé officiel en ligne sur le site de l'administration suisse.

13 December 2013

China reduces State intervention in the economy

According to a newswire story dated 11 Dec. reported by The BRICS Post, China's cabinet has decided to further limit the approval role of the central government as part of its efforts to reduce intervention in the economy.
"China's cabinet released a statement outlining the removal of 82 powers from a number of central government ministries, including the powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
The list released on Tuesday includes the cancelling or dissolving of power to lower levels on coal production approvals, permission of setting up foreign commerce chambers and checks on returning imported cargoes.
Facing a domestic economic slowdown and a still fragile world economy, the Chinese leadership has made transforming government functions a top priority to spearhead broader reforms.
The latest decision followed similar steps earlier this year that saw the removal of more than 300 administrative approval items, which the government claims helped to drive a notable rise in the number of business registrations."

11 December 2013

The rôle of parliament in better regulation (Paris conference)

Your blogger was honoured to moderate a half-day conference, organised on 5 December jointly by the OECD and the French Senate, on the rôle of Parliaments in the search for Better Regulation. The event, announced in a previous post, brought together MPs and staffers from France, the UK, Sweden and the EU to compare institutional competences and methods to start sharing best practice. The OECD outlined the issue in a concept paper, the first paragraphs of which are quoted below:
"The Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance is clear: "Ensuring the quality of the regulatory structure is a dynamic and permanent role of governments and Parliaments". As the institutions responsible for approving legislation, parliaments can exercise oversight and control over the application of better regulation principles for new and amended regulation. Through the public debate of proposed bills and amendments, they can help foster a transparent dialogue on the opportunities and challenges offered by new and amended regulation. Through the control they exercise on public expenditures and government performance, they can help monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of regulation.
OECD surveys of regulatory management show a progressive move towards strengthening the role of parliaments in improving regulatory quality. In 2008, 15 jurisdictions (14 OECD member countries and the EU) had a parliamentary committee or other parliamentary body responsible for regulatory policy or reform against 11 in 2005. In seven cases, this committee or body conducts periodic reviews of the quality of proposed legislation. In eight cases, it conducts quality reviews of subordinate legislation. In five cases, the review process is guided by specific criteria. In six the committee or body regularly reports on progress on regulatory policy and reform across government. Consultation is also often an integral part of the legislative process. For example, in New Zealand, Parliament invites public submissions on almost all bills and these are considered by a select committee before it makes recommendations. "
The first panel was devoted to recent changes in the French approach to the matter, which shows that the traditional emphasis on formal quality of the texts and a concern for full enactment, is gradually incorporating a keener sense of regulatory impacts on the economy, parlty under the influence of the principles of smart regulation promoted by Brussels. The second panel introduced several foreign good practices with contributions from the UK, Sweden and European parliaments. This blog will watch for the publication of the proceedings, which will hopefully reflect the many sound ideas about how parliaments and governments can cooperate, by way of the use of RIAs and other methods, to enact better and economically efficient regulation. Videos of the key moments of the conference are already uploaded on the site of the Senate.

Conference on better lawmaking in Europe 30 January

Eurochambres, the European association of chambers of commerce and industry, announces an interesting conference to be held in Brussels on 30 January in the European Parliament: "What next for Better Law-Making in Europe."
For an update on the issues, see a recent article by EU Issue Tracker.

New steps to support SME growth (UK)

On 7 December, the UK government published a new series of papers under its ‘Small Business: GREAT ambition’ initiative. The policy, designed in response to feedback from small business, aims to support new entrepreneurs to start up a business and focuses on small businesses who are ready to scale up their business. It sits alongside the British Industrial Strategy. The launch of ‘Small business: GREAT ambition’ is part of a wider programme of activity to promote the support available for small businesses and includes the Business is GREAT Britain campaign.
In an attractive format, with case studies illlustrating each of the objectives, the paper tackles the various dimensions of the life of a company, i.a. finding funding for growth, hiring people, developing new ideas, breaking into new markets.

19 November 2013

The potential of behavioural economics for regulation (OECD)

At its November session, the OECD Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) inaugurated a new workstream devoted to tapping the insights of behavioural economics (BE) for better regulatory design. As the topic was new for some delegates, the floor was given to two top experts in the field, Alberto Alemanno and Peter Lunn, for a general presentation of the current situation regarding BE.
Alberto has published "Nudging Legally - On the Checks and Balances of Behavioural Regulation" on SSRN.
Peter Lunn's paper commissioned by OECD, which includes a full bibliography, will shortly be published. It offers an international review of the initial applications of behavioural economics to regulation using some 60 cases, which shows that behavioural findings are having an impact on the content of and the method for designing regulation.
Further work of the OECD on this topic is likely to focus on international comparisons of economically significant cases and best practices of behaviourally-informed regulation.
The new concepts have been layed out in "Libertarian Paternalism" by R. Thaler and Cass Sunstein.
For an update on other topics discussed at the RPC recent session, experts should frequently visit the well-devised section on regulatory policy "Latest Documents" of the OECD website.

Why regulatory reform matters to the MENA region

In the margin of the November session of the regulatory policy committee (RPC), OECD published Regulatory Reform in the Middle East and North Africa: Implementing Regulatory Policy Principles to Foster Inclusive Growth which is the Organisation's first progress report on the implementation of OECD regulatory policy principles in the MENA region. Covering Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, and Tunisia, the report provides recommendations based on the 2009 Regional Charter for Regulatory Quality and the 2012 OECD Policy Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance.
The review reveals that an explicit regulatory policy in the MENA region is still in its infancy. The countries involved do not have an explicit regulatory policy. Systematic regulatory systems, processes and tools, such as Regulatory Impact Assessments, are also new to most governments in the region. The review concludes that further efforts are necessary to institutionalise regulatory policy and governance, for instance by implementing regular performance assessments of regulations.Improving the clarity and efficiency of regulations will benefit both citizens and enterprises and mark a crucial element in the transition process of MENA countries.
See also OECD Insights blog for a post analysing the new publication, by Moritz Ader and Miriam Allam.

Two BR events on 5 December

1/ - Paris: OECD/French Senate workshop on the role of parliaments in better regulation (by invitation from Registration).
"A key task of Parliament is to vote on the law. It is also necessary that the law is clear and enforceable. However, the increasing complexity of contemporary societies has led to a proliferation of bad quality and complex normative texts. To stop this tendency is a government objective taking various routes : codification , simplification laws , legistics, evaluation of the quality and the normativity of the law, etc. In the context of globalization , the challenge is not just legislative drafting and legal quality, public authorities must also ensure effective implementation of the effects of laws passed , and preserve the economic competitiveness and attractiveness of the country.
There are international instruments to promote these goals, especially at the OECD, which has set up a committee on regulatory policy and adopted in 2012 a Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance . Similarly, parliaments, sharing the objectives of good governance and the quality of legislation, are becoming more attentive to the way laws are implemented and achieve their results, as shown by the development of boards or units providing assessment of bills and laws and the increasing use of assessment tools like CBA and RIA.
This symposium , organized by the Senate Committee for the control of implementation of laws, in partnership with OECD, aims to better identify the role that Parliaments can play in assessing the quality of legislation . Based on testimonies and an exchange of best practices between French institutions and foreign parliamentary assemblies , it will discuss the role of parliaments in the processes and the tools they use for this purpose" (from the organisers' leaflet.)

2/ - The Hague: International Seminar on "Executive discretion and regulatory decision making – Issues and challenges in making regulation more effective" organised by the NL Academy for Legislation (by invitation). 
"The question of the appropriate amount of discretion that the executive branch should wield, and within it in particular regulatory bodies, is central to the understanding of how regulation and enforcement work, and to efforts to make them both more effective and efficient.
Proponents of regulatory discretion consider that it is the only way to escape the conundrum of writing exceedingly specific rules that end up being unwieldy and rapidly obsolete – and lend themselves to “gaming the system” by rogue operators. Critics point towards the risk of abuse, be it regulatory capture or corruption, abuse of power, and breakdown of the rule of law. One of the questions may be if it is at all possible to have enforcement of any type of rule without some sort of discretion." For more information, contact Florentin Blanc.

New RIA handbook from Israel

Our colleagues from Israel have just published online a particularly complete RIA handbook which will enrich the literature on this key tool in the search for "optimal regulation" (the term used in the handbook). The IL approach is quite distinctive and merits consideration, as it breakdowns the RIA process into five "stages" covering the whole regulatory cycle, integrating up-to-date international best practice:
- describing the status quo and defining policy goals;
- risk management, to determine the most efficient regulatory instrument for each "risk component" in the policy under consideration;
- assessing impacts including feedback from consultation procedures and comparing advantages and disadvantages of various projected regulations (options);
- anticipating implementation of the chosen solution to achieve success of the policy (including enforcement and inspection issues);
- public reporting to achieve transparency and accountability in regulatory design.
Other RIA methodologies and resources (from other countries) can be found on the OECD RIA pages.

14 November 2013

New RIA resources (APEC/Mexico)

The Mexican Federal Regulatory Commission ( COFEMER ) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC ) held in Mexico City, on 7 and 8 November, their third Workshop on "Final Guidance and Capacity Development Programme for Regulatory Impact Assessment " (available from COFEMER.)
The purpose of the workshop was to share experiences and best practices in regulatory reform, contributing to improving the competitiveness and well-being of the economies of the Asia -Pacific region. The workshop brought together civil servants from various countries in the Asia - Pacific region, including Chile, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam, and international experts. The workshop approved the final version of a guide for assessing the impact of regulation, to which is appended a volume of case studies, and a joint training programme to enable knowledge transfer to regulators and government officials in the participating economies.
This was the third and final workshop of the APEC - Mexico Project "Development and implementation of methods to improve the quality of regulation and Regulatory Impact Assessments," aimed at increasing the openness of markets, transparency and economic growth.

Icelandic independent regulatory council

An announcement from our colleague Pall Thórhallsson: This week, the Icelandic Government tabled a bill in Parliament proposing an independent regulatory council. The Council will review draft legislative bills and proposals for secondary laws which have a significant impact on businesses and competition. The Council will in particular scrutinise the impact assessments accompanying regulatory proposals. The opinions of the Council will be published on its website and attached to Government bills. Parliamentary Committees are also invited to consult (i.e. they are not obliged to do so) with the Council on members bills and on amendments to Government proposals. The Council can also at its own initiative issue opinions on Parliamentary documents in its field. Furthermore, the Council will issue statistics on the evolution of regulatory burdens of businesses. The bill makes clear that not only administrative burdens should be monitored, but also compliance burdens in general. Tax proposals and proposals based on minimum requirements due to the agreement on the European Economic Area (i.e. the incorporation of EU-law) are excluded from the mandatory scrutiny of the Council. The bill was drafted following a Seminar held in Reykjavik on 2-3 September 2013 in which Nick Malyshev from the OECD, Michael Gibbons from the UK Regulatory Policy Committee and Peter Bex from SIRA-Consulting took part. For more, see English translation of the bill and to the Government´s action plan in this field. 
See also recent post on the Norwegian regulatory council which cites the other European oversight authorities (GE, NL, UK.)

06 November 2013

Vers un code de l'administration (France)

Le 30 octobre, l'Assemblée nationale a adopté le projet de loi habilitant le gouvernement à simplifier les relations entre l'administration et les citoyens, texte qui devrait entrer en vigueur prochainement. Le contenu de ce projet de loi avait été résumé en conseil des ministres du 2 juin et a bénéficié de la procédure accélérée pour son adoption:
"Il autorise le Gouvernement à adopter par ordonnance un code des relations entre l'administration et le public. Ce code regroupera l'ensemble des règles de la procédure administrative qui sont aujourd'hui d'accès difficile parce qu'elles sont jurisprudentielles ou dispersées entre divers textes. En outre, le Gouvernement sera autorisé à modifier les règles actuelles, dans le sens de la simplification et de l'harmonisation. Ce nouveau code sera donc à la fois un facteur de transparence et un instrument permettant de simplifier les démarches.
Le projet de loi permet également de mettre en œuvre à brève échéance trois mesures de simplification urgentes. Il crée un droit de saisir l'administration par courrier électronique. Il facilite les délibérés à distance des organismes collégiaux. Enfin, il expérimente la communication d'avis donnés par un organisme ou une autorité au cours de l'instruction d'une demande pour permettre au demandeur d'améliorer son projet et de prévenir l'intervention d'une décision défavorable. Ces mesures seront prises par ordonnance." (...)
Une analyse critique du texte est donnée dans la Gazette des Communes par un juriste. 
Voir aussi billets précédents sur l'annonce par le président de la république en mai 2013 et un résumé le contenu du projet de loi en juillet.

New textbook on RIA at EU level

Friend-of-the-network and top-expert Erick Akse publishes today a new must-have book on RIA: "Influencing the Preparation of EU Legislation: a practical guide to working with impact assessments". All RIA practioners in Europe and elsewhere should buy a copy as this book was written with them in mind. Though primarily based on Erick's experience drafting some 30 RIAs for the EC, its detailed analysis of what is perhaps the most sophisticated RIA scheme in operation will be useful for all those facing the challenges of quality impact assessments. As stated in Mr Stoiber's preface, it also offers a starting point for further improvement of the system, some lessons being quite transposable to national experience.
Erik writes about his book:
"In my book, I describe in detail how the European Commission prepares its legislative and policy proposals through its system of Impact Assessment. The description covers, amongst others, the content requirements Impact Assessments need to live up to and the average 18-month procedure they go through from start to finish. I also explain how stakeholders can step into the Impact Assessment process and promote their interests effectively...  The target group is in principle everyone working with European legislation and policy."

FR business organisation suggests new targets for red tape

How does French business view the UK "Cutting EU red tape" report? The president of MEDEF (employers' confederation) was recently commenting on the British report drafted by an independent business panel. This was an opportunity for this text to be made known in France.
President Gattaz recalled that simplification was one of the main commitments of his organisation's programme of work and said that what was required was a new mindset in the legislative and regulatory process. He was very interested in the methodology developed by the British to drive the internal process of simplification ("one in, two out"); simplification, to be successful, must be sought according to a rigorous methodology. To do this, MEDEF would propose to the French government and parliamentary concrete objectives: 
- reduce the stock of regulation by 5% a year, especially in the labor law, taxation, environment, urban planning, 
- improve the quality of new legislation, avoid frequent changes. 
For more, see links to the report and summary and recent critical comment, in previous posts. Source of this post: Enjeux.

05 November 2013

UK report on EU red tape "not well-researched"

An interesting reaction to the recent business panel report (see previous post) of the of the was published today (4 Nov.) by A. Ackroyd, a labour and employment law expert on Lexology:
(excerpt) "...you might expect the report to include well-evidenced conclusions of how silly Brussels-driven bent-banana regulations are putting businesses to disproportionate expense, whilst failing to meet their intended objectives. Unfortunately, if you were expecting this, you will be disappointed (though if you have read any of the other rationales prepared by the Government over the last three years for cutting employment red tape, probably not surprised). 
The Foreword to the report proudly announces that its conclusions are based on “input from hundreds of firms, individuals and business associations across Europe”. However, by the Executive Summary (a mere three pages later) the extent of the report’s sources is drastically reduced to “some 90 UK businesses and business organisations, and over 20 business organisations across Europe” (my guess is 21). 
Not only is the extent of its research questionable, but the report’s eight recommendations to reduce employment regulations also appear to be no more than wish-lists from anonymous sources. Typical of this is the recommendation that small, low risk businesses should not be required to keep written health and safety risk assessments. This recommendation is based on a quotation attributed to “a small business organisation” (your local corner shop, perhaps) suggesting that “Removing the requirement to write down risk assessments could save businesses across Europe 2.7 billion euros”. (end of quote). Well worth reading the full article.

Untapped potential of Smart Regulation for SMEs

According to a press release, from the Lithuanian (rotating) presidency of the EU organized on 29 October a panel discussion on Smart Regulation for SMEs, attended by Brussels based European business organizations, representatives of companies, EU institutions and diplomats. The event focused on impact of regulation to medium sized enterprises in Europe and possible ways to reduce regulatory burden. 
In his opening remarks Deputy Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the EU ambassador Arunas Vinciunas noted that as a rotating Presidency Lithuania has placed special attention on smart regulation and SMEs in its Presidency Programme. "Smart regulation for SMEs is an important priority for the European Union as efficient and fit for purpose legislation in that area is a prerequisite for economic growth and for strengthening the competitiveness of Europe. Regulation has a direct impact on businesses, on performance of the companies. Our task during Lithuania's presidency - to make at least a small step forward to make life easier for the creative and hard-working business people," said ambassador Vinciunas.
According to him Smart Regulation should not sound as just a political slogan. Smart Regulation contains a number of important instruments to be fully employed and still has undisclosed potential to make EU and national legislation less burdensome for enterprises and effective at the same time.

Red tape cutting in Ethiopia

According to Addis Fortune, an online paper, the Ethiopian government is seeking to reduce the number of licenses and speed up official response times in an effort to improve the business environment. The method to achieve this seems orthodox: the ministry of trade signs "cooperation agreements" with "professional competence certificate issuing government offices" to enlist their support in achieving the red tape reduction objectives. This method seems to fall short, however, of true liberalisation that would really stimulate private initiative.

25 October 2013

French proposals to simplify EU law

At the 24 October meeting of the European Council, the French president F. Hollande put forward a project to simplify EU law based on three pillars : "delete all obsolete directives ", " limit supporting documentation required " and " adapt the law to the end-users ."
This reform drive views itself as the natural complement to the national effort (labelled "simplification shock" and reported in previous posts) which has already generated 200 measures, with more to come in coming weeks aimed at citizens and business, and new measures to facilitate judicial redress.
The economic impact of the programme, which should not be mistaken for deregulation, is still being assessed. The extension from 10 to 15 years of the validity of the ID card will for example generate a 25% reduction of administrative costs. A new integrated planning procedure to accelerate the construction of 20,000 has a potential revenue for the construction sector of € 3 billion ," says the Elysee.
For more, see Acteurs Publics article.

24 October 2013

L'Elysée résume les résultats du choc de simplification

Un communiqué de la présidence de la République (24 octobre) nous informe que le chef de l'Etat a présidé, aujourd'hui, la deuxième réunion de ministres sur le choc de simplification engagé le 14 mai dernier. Le président de la République s'est félicité que quatre projets de loi aient déjà été élaborés pour simplifier le droit par voie d'ordonnances. La première loi a été adoptée en juillet pour simplifier les règles applicables à la construction. La seconde, destinée à simplifier les relations entre les citoyens et l'administration, devrait l'être le 30 octobre. Le troisième projet relatif à la simplification de la vie des entreprises, en cours de discussion au Parlement, sera voté d'ici la fin de l'année et les ordonnances qui s'y rapportent seront adoptées, au plus tard, au printemps 2014. Le quatrième qui concerne les relations des citoyens avec la justice sera examiné en Conseil des ministres dans les semaines à venir.
Le chef de l'Etat a noté les résultats concrets que les 200 mesures de simplification arrêtées par le gouvernement auront tout au long du quinquennat sur la vie quotidienne des Français, des chefs d'entreprise, des élus et des fonctionnaires. Plusieurs principes qui modifient en profondeur le paysage administratif sont en voie d'application :
- Le principe du « 1 pour 1 » : dans le cadre du gel des normes en vigueur depuis septembre, le gouvernement publiera, tous les six mois, le coût des normes nouvelles qui devra être strictement compensé par le coût des normes supprimées ;
- Le principe du « silence vaut accord » : l'inventaire de toutes les démarches soumises à autorisation de l'administration sera achevé à la fin de l'année pour engager l'application du principe selon lequel le silence de l'administration vaut accord ;
- Le principe de la « confiance a priori » : les entreprises ne seront plus tenues, pour diverses démarches, d'adresser les pièces justificatives mais seulement de les tenir à disposition en cas de contrôle ;
- Le principe du « Dites-le nous une seule fois » : l'Etat investira dès 2014 dans des systèmes d'information communs aux différentes administrations afin que les entreprises aient à fournir, une fois seulement, une information.
Les simplifications décidées se traduiront concrètement par un gain de temps et d'argent pour les entreprises comme pour les citoyens et l'administration. [...] Le président de la République a validé la proposition du Premier ministre de renforcer l'organisation au service de la simplification : Guillaume POITRINAL, chef d'entreprise, et Thierry MANDON, député, surveilleront la mise en œuvre des simplifications au profit des entreprises, en vérifieront les résultats et en rendront compte au public. [...] Le chef de l'Etat proposera, lors du Conseil européen des 24 et 25 octobre 2013, une action vigoureuse en matière de droit européen. Il convient, en effet, de simplifier ce droit, sans abaisser les exigences en matière de protection, afin d'éliminer les complexités injustifiées qui pèsent sur notre droit national. [...]

22 October 2013

Independent better regulation council to be formed in Norway

According to a news item from  Regelrådet,(the Swedish Better Regulation Council), the newly elected Norwegian government has announced in its platform that an independent better regulation council will be formed. It is to be formed based on its Swedish counterpart. The government has also set a net target of 25% for reducing costs to businesses incurred by legislation. They also intend to simplify the public reporting portal Altinn even further to secure that businesses only have to report once." There are already such oversight bodies in the NL (Actal)), the UK (RPC)) and Germany (NKR). There is other interesting news on the Regelrådet page, like the government decision to make Regelrådet a permanent feature in the Swedish legislative process.

Limited impact of the shutdown on regulatory production

Regblog has published an interesting article investigating in detail how government shutdowns can affect the stream of regulation, using past examples (1995-1996) as well as first impacts of the most recent one. The conclusion is encouraging: the effects of a freeze of regulatory activity are temporary and the machine soon catches up. "This glance back at the shutdowns from the 1990s does suggest that a shutdown does not create long-lasting effects on agencies’ regulatory capacities. It might take them a while to warm up after the shutdown, but as long as politicians do eventually come to an agreement and re-open government, federal agencies will fairly soon be back in business protecting health, safety, and the environment."

Improvements in application of EU law

Every year since 1984 the Commission has presented an annual report on monitoring the application of Community law during the preceding year. After a bad 2012 report, this year's edition published today (22 October) shows some improvement.
The correct application of EU law is a cornerstone of the EU Treaties and at the heart of the Commission's regulatory fitness programme (REFIT). The 30th Annual Report on monitoring the application of EU law shows how Member States are performing in applying EU law. There were fewer infringements open at the end of 2012 than previous years. The number of cases in problem solving mechanisms such as EU Pilot increased. This reflects the determination of the European Commission to work with the Member States to solve problems and improve compliance.
At the end of 2012, the number of open infringement procedures decreased again, by 25 % compared to the previous year. This is related in part to the more frequent use of EU Pilot (a database database that helps establish theconformity of national rules with EU law) and other problem solving mechanisms (such as SOLVIT) which aim to solve problems and promote compliance (see press release).

Culture change for regulators (Australia)

The Australian Productivity Commission release a research report earlier this month on "Regulator Engagement with Small Business" according to which "Regulators can do more to reduce the compliance and enforcement burdens they impose on small businesses. The Commission argues that regulators should ensure they understand how regulation impacts on small business and keep the compliance capacity of small businesses at the forefront of their minds." A regulator's culture and attitude towards business should include the following improvements:
  • Regulators should adopt a multi-channel approach to communicating with small businesses with a focus on the brevity, clarity and accessibility of information. 
  • Compliance and enforcement strategies should be proportionate to risks posed to communities and facilitate voluntary compliance. 
  • Regulators should commit publicly to target timeframes for key processes, report on their performance in meeting targets, and consider other measures to improve timeliness. 
  • Regulators should have access to a sufficient range of enforcement tools and be resourced to do their job effectively, to avoid the shifting of direct and indirect costs onto businesses.

16 October 2013

UK takes new aim at EU red tape

Widely reported in the media, the UK Government's new drive against EU red tape. On the strength of a report 'Cut EU Red Tape,’put forward by a panel of six business leaders including Marks & Spencer chief executive, the Prime minister will be seeking more action at EU level at the summmit next week in Brussels.
The panel which was established after last June's EU summit, has just tabled its report which includes a series of 30 recommendation to slash labour rules of EU origin, including exempting companies with less than 10 employees from all new employment laws, ending plans to compel restructuring businesses from paying to retrain redundant staff, and allowing employers to change employment contracts in TUPE-style takeover situations.
Also included: scrapping the need for small businesses in low risk sectors to keep written health and safety records, scrapping proposals on shale gas, implementing the law on cross-border services and revamping rules limiting employee working hours. The report looks at barriers to overall competitiveness, to starting a company and employing people, to expanding a business, to trading across borders and to innovation. In several areas it calls on the EU to take further legislative steps by, for example, completing the digital single market or adopting rules to cap payment card fees
In addition to the 30 recommendations, the taskforce has designed a "filter" to ensure future EU laws are not overly burdensome on companies across the continent, which relies on better RIAs and a competitiveness test to ascertain that the new regulation is indeed required.
For more, see Daily Telegraph article, Reuters and European Voice summaries. The Guardian calls for a careful distinction between red tape and useful, protective, regulation.

EU Regulatory Fitness: results and next steps

On 2 October 2013, the Europan Commission published a Communication (COM(2013) 685 final) on "Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT): Results and Next Steps" which will be of great interest to smart regulators.
Extract from the press release:
"Whereas regulation at EU level is essential in many areas, it is often accused of stifling businesses, especially the smallest ones, or of interfering too much in citizens' daily lives. 74% of Europeans believe that the EU generates too much red tape. In response to that concern, the Commission has made a concerted effort over the past few years to streamline legislation and reduce regulatory burdens. In his 2013 State of the Union address on 11 September, President Barroso stressed the importance of smart regulation and declared that the European Union needs to be "big on big things and smaller on small things".
Today, the Commission takes another important step in ensuring that EU legislation is fit for purpose. In a Communication the Commission sets out in a concrete way, policy area by policy area, where it will take further action to simplify or withdraw EU laws, ease the burden on businesses and facilitate implementation. It is the result of a screening of the entire stock of EU legislation. The Commission also announced today the intention to publish a scoreboard to track progress at European and national in this regard. This exercise is at the heart of the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT). "
The Commission website offers a summary of results of the 2007-2012 Action Programme for reducing administrative burdens in the EU, claiming that "the programme has reached its target its target of cutting 25% the administrative burdens stemming from EU legislation (estimated at €124 billion). The measures adopted at EU level until December 2012 are worth € 30.8 billion in annual savings for businesses.
The Commission exceeded the target by tabling proposals with a burden reduction potential close to €41 billion (33%). Some of this potential was lost in the legislative process as the Commission proposals were amended.
If all the Commission's proposals still pending before Council and Parliament in December 2012 are adopted, the total estimated burden could be reduced by 30.5 % representing total annual savings for businesses of €37.6 billion."

14 October 2013

Le budget soutient la MAP, et réciproquement (France)

La direction du budget vient de remettre son rapport d'activité 2012 et il est intéressant d'examiner la partie consacrée à la MAP (p. 48) : "La modernisation de l'action publique (MAP) a été lancée en octobre 2012 avec pour objectif de définir et mettre en oeuvre des réformes structurelles tout en améliorant la qualité des services publics. La MAP doit ainsi contribuer au redressement des finances publiques et à la compétitivité de l'économie, principalement via les évaluations des politiques publiques (EPP), les programmes ministériels de modernisation et de simplification (PMMS) et des chantiers transversaux. L'exercice est piloté par le secrétariat général pour la modernisation de l'action publique (SGMAP). La direction du Budget lui apporte les données de cadrage budgétaire et de finances publiques. [...] La direction du Budget a également été associée à l'élaboration des programmes ministériels de modernisation et de simplification. Elle est par ailleurs fortement impliquée dans certains chantiers transversaux portant sur la rationalisation de la chaîne de dépense de l'Etat, ou l'amélioration de la politique d'achats de l'Etat. Le travail de la direction du budget (préparation du budget annuel et des budgets pluriannuels, propositions de réformes structurelles, prévisions de finances publiques à moyen terme, suivi de la performance notamment) alimente la démarche de revue de la dépense conduite à travers la MAP. Inversement, les travaux conduits dans le cadre de la MAP sont indispensables pour nourrir la procédure budgétaire de pistes de réformes ambitieuses et contribuer au respect des engagements en matière de finances publiques."
On notera également une nouvelle mission sur la maîtrise des dépenses publiques, qui examinera en particulier la responsabilité de la complexité du droit interne aux administrations dans les dérives budgétaires. L'idée est d'associer plus étroitement les collectivités territoriales à l'assainissement des finances publiques, en harmonisant les compétences, les budgets et les comptabilités des trois fonctions publiques (Etat, protection sociale, collectivités) et simplifier leur mise en œuvre au sein de la MAP.

"Communist" red tape under the knife

Delightful story not requiring any comment, from BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -The discipline watchdog of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has begun the second stage of its campaign to cut red tape in its system. The second wave will run until June next year, and target regulations or normative documents from the founding of the New China in 1949 to 1978, according to a statement by the CPC's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) on Sunday. The move will give the commission a clear picture of the existing regulatory situation and clarify the fight against corruption using legal weapons.
The first stage of the CPC's campaign, which began in June last year, focused on rules introduced from 1978 to 2012. The Party had abolished nearly 40 percent of its intra-Party rules introduced since 1978 as of Aug. 28, and the CCDI abolished 37 and nullified 28 of 476 rules introduced by it since 1978. The central authority and local Party committees also overhauled their ruleboook

"Common sense" cuts to red tape (UK)

The business minister announced on 1 October an array of "common sense" measures to simplify reporting on workplace accidents and other corporate reporting requirements, and protect companies against unfair risks and litigation. The reforms coming are part of the government’s drive "to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business. They respond directly to issues raised by business, including through the Red Tape Challenge, which invites firms to give their views on which regulations should be removed or improved."  For the detail of the measures, go to the UK Government press release.

09 October 2013

Making the best use of soft law (France)

Smart regulators know that according to the principle of necessity, regulation should only be used when there is no other way of achieving the policy objective. This is why the report on "le droit souple" (soft law) issued this week by the French Conseil d'Etat (CE) is going to be so useful. The CE (council of state) examines the recent development of soft law in its various forms and recommends that the government develop a doctrine on the use of this instrument to promote simple and high-quality regulation.
For the CE, soft law includes codes of conduct, best practice dissemination, the new European economic governance, self regulation by independent bodies and many other forms. These manifestations have in common that they do not impose specific obligations but aim to achieve policy objectives in a complex and uncertain society where regulation is increasingly present, often with the assistance of the end-users themselves.The CE wants to raise awareness of the growing importance and use of soft law by both public authorities and private companies in France and around the world .
Definition. Soft law includes all prescriptive instruments that meet three conditions:
• they modify or guide the behavior of their addressees while enlisting, as far as possible, their support;
• they do not per se create legal rights and obligations for their addressees;
• they feature, by their content and origin, a degree of formalization akin to legal rules.
How to make good use of it. The report offers a doctrine and operational tools, in the shape of 25 proposals for a rational use of soft law, which recommend inter alia:
• check the need for soft law on the basis of three "tests": usefulness, effectiveness and legitimacy;
• favour shorter regulatory texts by allowing regulators to detail implementation by guidance or technical standards;
• guarantee the publication including online of soft law instruments issued by public authorities;
• update the process of drafting corporate governance rules by listed companies;
• set up a public monitoring capacity for soft law generated by private actors, based on the most relevant departments.

"Behaviourally-informed" regulation on the rise

A fascinating article by top-expert Alberto Alemanno on the more frequent use of this new kind of smart regulation: Here is the abstract: "As behavioural sciences are unearthing the complex cognitive framework in which people make decisions, policymakers seem increasingly ready to design behaviourally-informed regulations to induce behaviour change in the interests of the individual and society. After discussing what behavioural sciences have to offer to administrative law, this paper explores the extent to which administrative law may accommodate their findings into the regulatory process. After presenting the main regulatory tools capable of operationalizing behavioural insights, it builds a case for integrating them into public policymaking. In particular, this paper examines the challenges and frictions of behavioural regulation with regard both to established features of administrative law, such as the principle of legality, impartiality and judicial oversight and more innovative control mechanisms such as the use of randomized control trials to test new public policies. This analysis suggests the need to develop a legal framework capable of ensuring that behavioural considerations may inform the regulatory process while at the same time guaranteeing citizens' constitutional rights and freedoms vis-à-vis the Regulatory State."

08 October 2013

Regulatory policy and trust in government

Speaking at a recent event organised by Salzburg Global and the Volcker Alliance on ‘Restoring the Public’s Trust: Delivering on Public Policy Goals’, the Secretary General of OECD, Mr Angel Gurria, listed the elements of a "strategy for trust" that OECD could recommend to national governments, built on three pillars: integrity, transparency and engagement. Mr Gurria defined the current situation as a crisis of trust, trust being "the cornerstone of effective governance, the main ingredient to promote economic growth and social progress. Like never before, our countries are running dry of this precious asset. Like never before, our citizens have doubts about their government’s capacities to make the right decisions. And like never before, we need to take the necessary measures to recover that confidence."
Regulatory policy could contribute significantly to improve transparency and restore trust in government, said Mr Gurria: "Our regulatory and supervisory structures have failed us in many important ways. This is resulting in a degradation of the idea of the State as that strong institutional framework that guaranteed our safety, our prosperity, our right to succeed, through a system of checks and balances inspired in a crucial principle: accountability. Our governments now need to make a major effort to restore this certainty and with it the respectability, the credibility, of the State. The OECD is supporting these efforts, with different tools: like our recently updated Principles on Regulatory Quality, the OECD Working Group on Bribery; the Annual High-Level Anticorruption Conference for G20 Governments and Business; and the CleanGovBiz Initiative, to name but a few."

Good roadmap for regulatory reform (Rhode Island)

Experts seeking a recent formulation of a regulatory policy addressing the needs of small business could do well to check out a recent article by Ms Serpa, Rhode Island Democratic state representative and chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business. "Regulatory reform isn’t the sexiest topic in state government, but for small-business owners it’s everything. I know this, many of my colleagues in the General Assembly know this, and it is my belief that Rhode Island is coming close to achieving tangible progress in streamlining our regulatory processes."
Ms Sherpa refers to a RI Office of Regulatory Reform paper entitled “Period 1 Regulatory Look Back Report”  which takes stock of the current review of all legislation and formulates 10 key recommendations (summarized as follows):
"Map the regulatory environment: Rhode Island should provide an up-to-date map of state-government organization so small-business owners aren’t lost as to where to find information about how to start a business, how to expand their businesses or simply how to stay in compliance with state guidelines.
•Reduce the number of statutory exemptions: More than 20 percent of reviewed regulations across 22 regulatory entities were exempt from the reform process because of either separation-of-powers considerations or the law’s definition of “small business.” The lack of clarity in the definition of “small business” poses a consistent challenge, and it’s one ORR recommends we tackle in the future.
•Improve accessibility to regulations: Small businesses reported needing outside professional help to navigate the 26,240 pages of regulation. The report aptly points out that those documents are the equivalent of 10.1 copies of “War and Peace.” To worsen matters, each regulatory entity uses a different template for writing regulations. The bottom line: We need to make this process more uniform.
•Rejoin separated regulation: Breaking down one regulation into separate regulations in the past has resulted in confusion about how to comply with basic guidelines. This must be rectified.
•Reform audit, inspection and enforcement processes: These practices have as much impact on small business as regulatory policy and need to be reviewed alongside regulatory reform.
•Promote lawmaker and small business participation in reform: Lawmakers should be involved in this process just as much as members of the business community should provide feedback. We are only in the first stage of recommendations. There needs to be more dialogue. I would even go one step further to suggest a presentation to the General Assembly on these ORR findings and recommendations so we can put a spotlight on these issues and deliberate on them effectively in future sessions.
•Support improved cost-benefit analysis: The state is always concerned with data quality, and we want to strive to ensure that it can accurately quantify basic regulatory statistics.
•Push regulatory reform efforts beyond current performance levels: Of the 179 regulations identified by entities and ORR as having a small-business impact, 26 were offered for amendment and repeal. We can do better. As we move forward with rigorous review, ORR will challenge our departments to find more areas of reform. A large part of our economic environment is dependent upon how quickly this state can turn around and streamline these processes for small businesses."

SCM Working Group Helsinki Meeting

On 20 September 2003the SCM Network working Group meeting was held in Helsinki, Finland. More than 30 delegates attended for this meeting, which included for the first time, delegates from Croatia. The meeting was opened by the Hon. Janne Metsamaki, the Finnish State Secretary responsible for reducing Administrative Burdens. He stated that the Finnish Government has committed itself to avoid both increasing the costs incurred for and adding to the regulatory burden on the industry through its decisions. 
Even though there is no reason to feel pleased about the economic downturn in the Euro area, Hon. Metsamaki said that this situation has brought the bureaucracy experienced by businesses in Finland into greater focus in public debate. Politicians cannot afford to weaken the operating conditions of companies with excessive bureaucracy. He mentioned that the one good thing that will come out of this downturn in economic activity is that policy-makers are now better equipped to make decisions with a genuine impact on reducing the burden on businesses.
The meeting discussed the various initiatives that are being implemented in a number of Member States when it comes to the development of eGovernment for the various services being offered by Government Entities to the business community and the citizens.
Gerald Reindl explained how in Austria, they have introduced the Austrian Business Service Portal. This a central eGov one-stop-shop for businesses which will provide information and transactions, enable businesses to have an efficient administrative procedures with the Federal Government while at the same time cutting costs of up to € 300 million.
Janek Rozov presented the Estonian case of their development of a Register of Economic Activities. The objective of this project was to standardise public services and develop physical and virtual service environment according to citizens' perspective. The advantages of having such a Register is that Estonia managed to group the regulations about economic activities into one general Act. Thus all the necessary information that one needs to know about areas of activity subject to special requirements, were assembled in one place. With this Register, applications for licences, notices and information of economic activities can be affected through this channel of communication.
Pierre Schilling, showed how the MyGuichet functions in Luxembourg. Through this system, all forms can be filled and sent on line. Moreover, both the citizens and the businesses can follow-up on the procedure and state-of-play of application. Communications and notifications are done via the same system. To ease the process, documents can be uploaded on the system and the procedures can be carried out by a proxy.
Elina Koskentalo delved into the development of the XBRL system in Finland. The eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) helps businesses to present the financial data in a structured and machine readable format. Moreover, the system will process the data in an automated formation and processing of reports. The benefits from such a system results from having easy accessible data, reliability of data, comparability, economical transparency and the availabilty of real-time economy data.
 Kostantinos Bovalis, gave a detailed presentation on what the European Commission is doing in this field. He mentioned that the challanges facing public administrations is that of improving the quality of their operations so as to have increased competitiveness and productivity for EU businesses. The need is there to develop synergies among institutions so as to enable effective resource utilization in piblic sector agencies.
The ISA - Interoperability Solutions for Public Administration – system that the EU had developed, has interoperability aimed at introducing an efficient eGovernment services  both at national and at EU level.  Elisabeth Kristensson explained how they have created a technical infra-structure for reporting once only obligations. She mentioned that the Swedish Government embarked on a project whereby by 2020, business community will in most cases submit information once and to one place. By doing this, the businesses will feel a positive and noticeable change in their day-to-day operations.  When this system is in place, the one million plus companies, will save a yearly 2.25 billion SEK in administrative burdens. (summary by Paul Debattista, Malta)

27 September 2013

French national assembly adopts regulatory watchdog

According to the Gazette des Communes, MPs adopted on 19 September a bill tabled by two senators to create a national council for the evaluation of norms. This new body (CNEN) would replace an existing council, with added power to examine the regulatory stock, not only the flow of new legislation and its advice wold be binding on the government. This development follows the trend in France to focus regulatory policy on consequences for subnational authorities, which have many unfunded legal obligations and have accrued heavy deficits recently denounced by the national Audit Court. As part of the same policy, a moratorium on all new legislation affecting local authorities was decreed on 17 July.

Bulgaria cuts red tape

According to a Sofia news agency, Bulgaria's Council of Ministers has discussed a set of 88 measures to reduce the administrative burden on businesses and citizens, which are due to be adopted in early October."The measures mostly involve switching from license to registration regimes, reducing fees, and simplifying the review procedures", and had been drafted on the basis of Bulgarian and EU practices and criteria, the deputy PM specified, as cited by dnevnik.bg. She suggested that the state bodies affected by the proposed set of measures were expected to oppose them.

How the courts can support RIA

Alberto Alemanno informs us on his blog of his contribution to the Annual Meeting of the European Association of Law & Economics (closing 28 Sept.) in a panel devoted to Law & Economics and Regulatory Impact Assessment. The other speakers are Andrea Renda (CEPS and Luiss), Daniel Trnka (OECD) and Jaroslaw Beldowski (Warsaw School of Economics). Alberto will present his forthcoming chapter in Radaelli's Handbook on Regulatory Impact Assessment titled: Impact Assessment and Courts. Its main thesis is that "In line with the principle of separation of powers, policy makers and courts have very different jobs. Yet, their respective inputs to the fabrics of government are not totally exclusive but complementary to one another: the output of the former's work, i.e. regulation, is subject to the scrutiny of the latter, through judicial review. Hence, the question arises whether and how the increasing use of impact assessment by policymakers in the preparation of policy proposals may affect courts when called upon to judge the legality of those initiatives and what this may entail for the overall legal system".

11 September 2013

North Carolina reviews its legislative stock

At the end of August, the governor of North Carolina signed the Regulatory Reform Act of 2013, which calls for a comprehensive review ever of the state's regulations. Over the next 10 years, all North Carolina regulations will be subject to review and potential amendment or repeal. As a result, regulated industries and businesses will have the opportunity to seek long-sought rule changes. The schedule for review will be set by the Rules Review Commission, an executive agency created in 1986 to ensure that proposed new rules are authorized by law and are clear and necessary. Under the Regulatory Reform Act, rules will be reviewed under a three-step process involving state agencies, the Rules Review Commission and the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee. For more, go to Mondaq online article.

Projet de loi de simplification et sécurisation des entreprises

(Complément aux indications données dans le billet du 3 septembre.) Le 4 septembre, le gouvernement a examiné en Conseil des ministres le projet de loi habilitant le Gouvernement à légiférer par ordonnances dans le domaine de la simplification de la vie des entreprises. Le texte propose une série de mesures, dont certaines ont déjà été annoncées en juillet dernier lors du dernier Comité interministériel de modernisation de l'action publique (Cimap). Il met en œuvre le "choc de simplification" , l'une des priorités du Pacte national pour la croissance, la compétitivité et l'emploi et s'inspire également du rapport Mandon sur la simplification "collaborative" de l'environnement réglementaire et fiscal des entreprises (officiellement remis le 13 août au gouvernement). Les mesures annoncées incluent la réitération de la baisse de 25 % des charges des entreprises, dans le cadre de la politique européenne Smart Regulation. Les mesures de simplification visent à "améliorer l'environnement règlementaire de notre tissu productif. Sous le concept "sécurisation des entreprises" concept associé pour la première fois à la politique de simplification, on trouve diverses mesures pour faciliter et sécuriser la facturation et les communications électroniques des entreprises. On trouve aussi, entre autres mesures, la transposition en droit français de l'allègement des obligations comptables des micro-entreprises décidée au niveau européen. Une présentation très détaillée est fournie dans un dossier de presse téléchargeable. Voir aussi la réaction du ministère des finances sur le rapport Mandon.

Conference on quality of legislation Brussels, 20 Sept.

This blog has always supported the idea that smart regulation starts with good drafting.  The Legal Service of the European Commission is holding its 18th seminar on quality legislation on the theme "Ensuring the quality of drafting of legislation in a multilingual context – Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta." It is taking place in Brussels on 20 September 2013. The programme of the event is online, with the minutes and documentation from the previous seminar on the issue as viewed in Poland.

05 September 2013

WEF 2013-2014 global competitiveness report

Yesterday 4 Sept. the World Economic Forum released its new edition of the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 which assesses the competitiveness landscape of 148 economies (4 more than last year), providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity. The rankings are supported by good research into the economic impacts of the respective regulatory frameworks, and include other data such as perception surveys. The whole is highly relevant to the regulatory community.
Main findings:
  • highly innovative countries with strong institutions continue to top international competitiveness rankings
  • Germany moves up two places (4th) and the United States reverses a four-year downward trend, climbing two places to fifth.
  • Hong Kong SAR (7th) and Japan (9th) also close the gap on the most competitive economies, while Sweden (6th), the Netherlands (8th) and the United Kingdom (10th) fall.
    Defining competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country, GCI scores are calculated by drawing together country-level data covering 12 categories – the pillars of competitiveness – that together make up a comprehensive picture of a country’s competitiveness. The 12 pillars are: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.

    Consultation on deregulation closes 16 Sept (UK)

    The Red Tape Challenge website announces a consultation launched by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the draft Deregulation Bill, chaired by Lord Rooker, on the draft Deregulation Bill and the policies underpinning it. The Joint Committee comprises six MPs and six Peers. It will take written and oral evidence and make recommendations in a report to both Houses. The Joint Committee is required to make its report by 16 December 2013.
    The Call for Evidence and the form for submitting written evidence are also available from the same page. What is the content of this bill which refers to the strong term "Deregulation" ?
    (extract from the bill):"The key measures in the Bill remove unnecessary burdens on three main groups:
    1/ Freeing business from red tape including by:
    - scrapping health & safety rules for self-employed workers in low risk occupations, formally exempting 800,000 people from health & safety regulation and saving business an estimated £300,000 a year;
    - putting a deregulatory 'growth duty' on non-economic regulators, bringing the huge resource of 50 regulators with a budget of £4bn to bear on the crucial task of promoting growth and stopping pointless red tape; and
    -  making the system of apprenticeships more flexible and responsive to the needs of employersand the economy, as recommended by the Richard Review. The Deregulation Bill will remove a lot of prescriptive detail in the current legislation and clarify the employment status of apprentices.
    2/ Making life easier for individuals and civil society including through:
    - reducing the period for which someone has to live in their social housing to qualify for Right to Buy and Right to Acquire from five to three years, expanding their availability to a further 200,000 households; - scrapping heavy-handed fines for people who make mistakes putting out their bins;
    - deregulating the showing of "not-for-profit" film in village halls and community centres, making it easier for small charities and community groups to hold "film nights"; and
    - devolving decisions on public rights of way to a local level, which will cut the time for recording a right of way by several years and save almost £20m a year through needless bureaucracy.
    3/ Reducing bureaucratic requirements on public bodies including:
    -  removing prescriptive requirements on local authorities to consult and produce strategies; and
    - freeing schools from pointless paperwork and prescriptive central Government requirements."

    Doing Business in Colombia 2013 just published

    "Doing Business in Colombia 2013, the third subnational report of the Doing Business series in Colombia, compares business regulations across 23 cities. The report focuses on local and national regulations that affect 5 stages in the life of a small to medium-size domestic firm: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, paying taxes and trading across borders. It identifies differences in local regulations and the enforcement of national regulations at the local level that can enhance or constrain local business activity. The report finds that Colombian cities continue to implement regulatory business reforms converging towards best regulatory practices." For main findings, go to World Bank site. The report is interesting i.a. for the multi-level regulatory governance aspect.

    Spain sustains simplification effort

    On 4 September, a meeting of the Commission on Public Admistration Reform (CORA) took stock of progress achieved since the launch of the program in June, and concluded that more than half the 200 measures announced had been or were being implemented (see press release).
    The full CORA report is now available on the site of the ministry in charge.
    The Vice PM, who was chairing the meeting, also recalled that OECD was "controlling" the implentation, to help the Government avoid "complacency." An evaluation index of progres would be published every term.

    03 September 2013

    New BR developments in France

    Owing to its importance, it is worth returning to the news reported (in French) in a 31 July post about recent trends in regulatory policy in France, which are increasingly inspired by the principles of better regulation.
    First of all, the two new policy documents are much more concisely drafted (two pages only), which considerably increases the clarity of their purpose. Both texts also insist on organising two-way communication with the users (the general public and the economic actors):
    1/ the "protocol for relations with deconcentrated services" a title which unfortunately will not mean much for foreign colleagues, contains a new policy for communicating within government, in this case with (subnational) implementation levels. The most important novelty is to reserve the "circulaire" (ministerial guidance) for instructions for the implementation or public policy, in under 5 pages. Less formal guidance (such as information, clarification and methodological recommendations) should be interactive, offering FAQ and other cooperative channels. The new policy is interesting because it breaks with the classic tradition that circulaires were not allowed to contain any regulatory prescription. Now, they are to be expressly billed "instructions from the Government" for the sake of clearer communication.
    2/ the circulaire on implementing the regulatory freeze (gel de la réglementation) is also inspired by the principles of better regulation. It calls for all new regulation to contribute to simplifying the existing stock and sets up a mechanism to avoid new regulatory burdens: new obligations must be offset by equivalent simplifications. The equivalence is to be judged both in quantitative and qualitative terms. To operate the scheme, RIAs are extended to most new regulatory drafts and a monitoring tool (by ministerial department) will be set up. RIA will specially target gold-plating and seek "proportionality" now defined as allowing flexible (smart) implementation according to "specific situations". Common commencement dates and a time lag granted for compliance measures will also reinforce "legal security."

    Regulatory Accountability Act (US)

    The excellent and often quoted RegBlog carries a comprehensive study dated 22 August about plans to improve the regulatory process by strengthening accountability
    "The Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) would amend the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by, among other things, adding procedural requirements for new rules and guidance documents, increasing the role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in reviewing new regulations, and changing the scope and availability of judicial review of agency rules. Its proponents say that it would “improve accountability and the integrity of the rulemaking process,” while its opponents say the bill will prevent agencies from regulating. (...) For three types of regulations—major, high-impact, and novel—the RAA would require agencies to publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking at least ninety days before the notice of a proposed rule. While many agencies already issue advance notices, the bill would require agencies to do so and to include a determination of the legal authority for the potential new rule." For a lot more, see RegBlog.

    British Columbia appoints official to cut red tape

    According to a Canadian online news provider, the BC Government has just launched the "Small Business - Doing Business with Government Project" headed by a senior official whose task will be to work with small businesses to break down barriers and seek to increase small business procurement by at least 20 per cent. Emphasis will be on direct consultationwith business owners and operators to develop recommendations to make it easier for small businesses to compete for and win government contracts. This type of appointment is no longer rare, and can be considered good practice as it puts a face on the simplification effort, and stresses the participation of stakeholders in the effort.

    31 July 2013

    A deserved break for your blogger

    From your blog editor, Charles-Henri Montin, many thanks to readers and contributors for their support.
    All through August, only exceptional news will be reported.
    Wishing you a restful holiday period, I leave you to reflect on future resolutions for smart regulation, on the invitation of our friend Daniel Tsygankov from Moscow.

    Decentralised, contractual policies for growth (UK)

    A new "initial guidance document" (more will be published in September) dated 25 July  further clarifies the UK Government's growth policy, and how it relies on Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), contractual agreements between local authorities and business, to deliver results. The policy had first been defined in the 'Government's Response to the Heseltine Review'. The core proposition of Lord Heseltine's report is a decentralised approach that is intended to "break Whitehall's monopoly on resources and decision making," to empower Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to drive forward growth in their local areas. Alongside this, the report makes a number of recommendations that strengthen the underpinnings of long-term growth, from changes to the way in which Whitehall supports growth, to strengthening partnerships between government and business, and business and education. This guidance fleshes out how this process is to be enacted: "Through Growth Deals, LEPs can seek freedoms, flexibilities and influence over resources from government, and a share of the Local Growth Fund to achieve their identified growth priorities. In return, the government expects LEPs to demonstrate that they are committed to the growth agenda, including by developing ambitious, multi-year strategic economic plans. We also expect the local authority members of LEPs to prioritise economic development and work collaboratively across the LEP area."

    "Nudging in Europe" (Workshop 12-13 December)

    Top expert Alberto Alemanno is organising (with A.L. Sibony) a workshop on how EU regulators can use recent insights of behavioural sciences to design smarter regulation. The event will take place in Liège on 12-13 December, and Alberto is calling for contributions (deadline 1 October).
    The announcement contains the promise of fruitful exchanges, and is well worth reading, even if you cannot attend. Here is an extract:
    "A growing body of evidence suggests that insights from the behavioural sciences - from psychology and behavioural economics to neurosciences - can help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals. By showing that individuals deviate in predictable ways from neoclassical assumptions of rationality, behavioural sciences may help policy makers and administrative agencies to design policies that accommodate how people really behave, not how they are assumed to behave.
    Under both UK Prime Minister Cameron and US President Obama, policy makers have recently been encouraged to draw on behavioural and social sciences insights in the design or implementation of new regulations." (for the rest, go to Alberto's blog).