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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26 February 2013

"Less paperwork, more security" (Italian simplification)

With change underway in Italy following the parliamentary elections, it may be useful to take a look at the well designed and stocked site of the unit for simplification of the ministry of public administration and simplification. Though it is mainly in Italian, there are a few resources in English, for instance a presentation of the local version of a one-stop-shop for company registration ("impresa en un giorno"). An October 2012 ppt sums up recent original trends in legal simplification, implementing the 6 February 2012 decree "Simplify Italy". The document stresses that the programme works under the principle "less paperwork, more security" and does not jeopardize any regulatory guarantees (such as safety at work), but only reduces reporting obligations. The policy also seeks to help companies comply with legislation, by improving their information. The site insists on the protection of regulatory benefits: "simplified official forms and procedures can only adopted with the agreeement of the Standing Advisory Committee on Health and Safety at Work, which brings together ministries, regions, employers' organizations, trade unions and the Regions-State Conference. These measures are expected to generate savings of about €3.7bn." The presentation ends with practical examples of simplifications under way, which concern both business and citizens.

Doing Business: become a contributor !

The World Bank Group is seeking specialists to participate in its pro bono global research project. The Doing Business Report is a publication of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation that benchmarks business regulation in 185 countries worldwide. To volunteer for research work, visit "become a contributor" page.

Abu Dhabi slashes red tape

According to a leading newspaper in the Emirate, "red tape and delays in starting a business are to be slashed and the cost cut almost in half in a raft of reforms to boost the private sector. Awarding at least 10 per cent of government contracts to private companies, cutting the time required to obtain a construction permit and overhauling laws on the private sector were among 29 initiatives announced yesterday by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.
The moves come as the Government seeks to accelerate the role of private enterprise in driving diversification and raise the contribution of the non-oil sector from the 2005 level of 40 per cent of the Abu Dhabi economy to 64 per cent by 2030. The initiatives are part of the department's 2013-2016 strategy but it aims to meet the targets this year. They include a database of private-sector companies, a consumer protection and market surveillance centre, an export promotion agency and a federal level credit rating agency for small and medium-sized businesses.
The cost of starting a business will be cut from from 10 per cent of gross national income per capita to 6 per cent. UAE gross national income per capita was valued at Dh150,000 in 2011, indicating a cut of more than Dh5,500.
The department will also launch a commercial business centre to cut the paperwork and time taken to register a business. A specialised unit to support partnership between the public and private sectors and a draft public-private partnership law were also announced. " For more, read the official press release dated 20 Feb.

North Carolina to review 22,500 regulations every 10 years

This blog cannot possibly keep track of all the regulatory reform initiatives taken by each of the states composing the USA, but the recent move by the North Carolina (NC) House of Representatives is worth mentioning for its ambitious technical content, bearing in mind the political balance in this state (see Economist, 15 Feb. 2013 "a state turns solidly Republican"). The new Regulatory Reform Committee discussed "a bill that would mandate an official review of every state rule with an eye toward eliminating redundant or burdensome regulations.The bill would require a review of the state's more than 22,500 administrative rules over the next four years with a periodic review every 10 years. The Department of Health and Human Services review, if the bill is passed, would be finished by 2016, followed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2017. All of the rules would be reviewed by 2019."

24 February 2013

French PM mainstreams oversight of regulatory quality

On 19 February, the Prime Minister's private office signed a new circular (standing instruction) to ministries to present an updated policy for simplifying the regulatory environment, tackling both the stock and the flow of regulation, and more effective consultation of stakeholders, in keeping with the interministerial action plan defined in December. Steering and coordinating are to be handled inside the Secrétariat Général du Gouvernement by Ms C. Vérot, deputy to the head of the general secretariat, "in charge of simplification." Ms Vérot replaces Mr R. Bouchez, the Simplification Commissioner since November 2010 (see his last annual report reported on this blog) with an extended mandate including implementing regulatory simplification measures decided by the interministerial committee (CIMAP). The circular also states that she will be liaising with two other simplification efforts, directed at local authorities (MPs Lambert and Boulard) and business (MP Mandon) and reminds the ministries of the different simplification agendas they must prepare by the end of June 2013.

Russia to cut red tape to boost investment

Under the title "Medvedev Cuts Red Tape to Boost Investment in Regions", the Moscow Times dated 18 Feb. reports that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the government to find ways by 14 March to "reduce bureaucratic obstacles to regional investment amid a drive to boost regional economies." A key measure requires the Economic Development Ministry to draft proposals to abolish the superfluous powers of the regional branches of federal agencies that create obstacles to investment. The key obstacles to investing in Russia are workers' poor knowledge of English, red tape and corruption, according to a survey of 195 foreign top managers by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The research was carried out in May on behalf of aluminum giant RusAl.

Evaluation of fishing reform in Peru

An example of particularly well researched ex-post evaluation of a regulatory reform, from Peru: the study of the impact of regulation No. 1084 of 2008 which brought about the largest reorganization of the fishing sector in the last 35 years in Peru by introducing individual fishing quotas for vessels in the anchovy business (based on their fishing record and their storage capacity). This is quite a contentious issue internationally.
This publication provides a study of the balance of benefits and costs, as well as the opportunities and threats generated by the system of property rights in anchovy fisheries, three years after it was introduced in Peru. It also analyzes the appropriateness of extending the application of this type of fisheries management to the other major fisheries exploited in Peru today (eg, squid, mackerel), based on an analysis of the experience of the hake fishery earlier reform.
As expected, the allocation of property rights produced a number of benefits on the size and profitability of the fishing industry, and on the envirnoment (slowing the "race to fish") (reported by Manuel Palmi.)

21 February 2013

"Absurd" regulation to be hunted down (France)

There are quite a number of countries acknowledging that they suffer from "regulatory inflation" and probably others facing the same problem without admitting it. France has made it a major driver for regulatory reform, especially when it comes to regulation imposed on local authorities, often source of heavy compliance burdens. This issue has been reported quite frequently on this blog, but two newly released documents shed some more light on the topic. First, a parliamentary report describes the situation in detail and presents a bill to put an end to the problem. Secondly, a particularly rich study has just been published by Les Echos, an economic newspaper. In an article titled "France: the country with 400,000 regulations," it explains that "faced with greater demand for security or protection of the environment, regulations have multiplied, and become a real headache. To remedy this, the government has set up a mission to list the texts considered "absurd" that can be easily repealed." The article contains two picturesque examples of such absurd regulation.

Japan PM makes regulatory reform "top priority"

As a member of OECD, Japan is no stranger to regulatory reform. In the early 2000s, a Council for Regulatory Reform conducted a number of projects which were assessed in an OECD review.
It now seems that the new government under Mr Abe has put the policy at the top of the government agenda. On 24 January, the Prime Minister attended the first meeting of the Regulatory Reform Council (the name has changed). According to the official site, "The Regulatory Reform Council is a council to respond to the consultation of the Prime Minister from the perspective of promoting measures on basic and important policies related to economy, to comprehensively research and examine the basic items on the reform on how the necessary regulation should be for carrying forth the structural reform of economy and society, and to give opinions to the Prime Minister on relevant items."
The PM makes an interesting distinction between his predecessor's policy "regulatory reform for its own good" and his own approach where "the purpose of the regulatory reform is clear. It is a regulatory reform for revitalizing the economy. It also aims to achieve economic growth through regulatory reform, and create employment. I expect that these purposes are set forth clearly" Japan is to use Regulatory Reform to fullfill the PM's ambition: "What we aim for becoming is number one in the world."
Work is proceeding swifty, according to Daily Yomiuri Online, who reports that during the second meeting of the council on 15 February, the secretariat presented 59 possible regulatory reform targets in four fields--health and medical care, energy and the environment, employment, and new enterprises and industrial revitalization. Controversial issues such as more flexibility in the labour market are being considered. A new growth strategy is to be compiled in June.

Réunion à Paris sur la réforme réglementaire dans la région MENA

Les 22 et 23 janvier 2013, la France a accueilli la huitième réunion du groupe de travail IV du programme MENA-OCDE pour la Gouvernance au Ministère de l'Economie et des Finances. Plus de 80 délégués de haut niveau, dont 24 responsables ministériels, des représentants d'organisations internationales et d'organisations non-gouvernementales ont échangé sur les questions liées à la croissance dans la zone MENA. La réunion fut ouverte par l'ambassadeur de la France à l'OCDE, Pascale Andréani, Présidente du Comité des relations extérieures.Les délégués ont accueilli le rapport de l'OCDE sur la réforme de la réglementation de la région MENA et ont encouragé le secrétariat de l'OCDE à poursuivre sa collecte de données dans la région MENA pour inciter à la mise en place des recommandations de l'OCDE en matière de gouvernance. Les délégués ont mis l'accent sur le dialogue qui doit exister entre les pays de l'OCDE et ceux de la zone MENA pour que chacun puisse bénéficier des meilleurs pratiques (Photo Min des finances, P. Bagein).

19 February 2013

Major new book on Smart Regulation in Europe

Just published: "Verso la smart regulation in Europa" (Maggioli Editore) ! (Towards SR in Europe). This collective work (450 pp) under the direction of F. Barazzoni and F. Basilica (Italy) collects country chapters in a review of the state of smart regulation initiatives in Europe. All the best experts contributed to this panorama of regulatory quality: in addition to the editors (for Italy), H. Brinkman & F. Frick (Germany, P. Nurmi (Finland), P. Karkatsoulis (Greece), J. Nijland (Netherlands), M. Leitao Marques (Portugal, E. Schizas (U.K.), S. Penec and A. Marusic (Serbia). Your blogger wrote the EU chapter and France (with M. Hainque). All chapters are accompanied by a translation into Italian.
Written by experienced practicioners connected with the academic world, this book contains an unprecedented analysis of Better Regulation and its evolution towards Smart Regulation, the political objective that Europe adopted in 2005 to simplify the regulatory environment and create the conditions for introducing smarter rules and avoid imbalances between costs and benefits, unclear or unworkable rules . It shows that Smart Regulation is now an essential aspect of economic policy of European countries and the Union itself, making it a lever to improve growth, competitiveness, economic development and employment.
According to the back cover notice "the importance of these issues has led the authors to reflect together on the most innovative initiatives to improve the quality of regulation adopted in various countries and European institutions, analyzing its strengths and weaknesses. The comparative approach highlights the main trends and significant differences between the approaches and tools of reform adopted by individual countries and European institutions, offering insights for scholars and practitioners for further study and practical developments, both in the European national, in the belief that improving the regulation still represents a challenge that requires continuous adjustments in light of the economic environment and the system of European governance." You can preview large sections of the new volume in Google Books.

French state aids to entrepreneurship too complex

"Too numerous and too expensive," that is how the Audit Court (Cour des Comptes) assessed public subsidies to entrepreneurship in France in its annual report published 14 February. The Court pointed at the proliferation of support schemes funded by central and local governments, for an estimated cost of 2.7 billion euros in 2011, of which 80% comes from direct aids ($ 2.1 billion) mainly through the activation of unemployment spending. Indirect aid consists mainly of tax incentives for investment in venture capital (0.3 billion excluding tax exemptions). In this patchwork, the auditors point to "the lack of an overall strategy" and suggest to designate a responsible inter-ministerial coordinating agency. The PACE (Agency for entrepreneurship), which currently supports this mission should be restructured, otherwise "the question of maintenance of this body would be asked." The authors also recommend that reform involve regional prefects for a decentralized approach, as has been tested in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Picardy and Lorraine regions. For a summary, see the Court's own summary (30 pages) or Les Echos article online.

13 February 2013

Better Regulation in Greece (OECD report)

Just published, in the "Better Regulation in Europe" series, "Better Regulation in Europe: Greece 2012"
This review of regulation in Greece maps and analyses the core issues which together make up effective regulatory management, laying down a framework of what should be driving regulatory policy and reform in the future.
The executive summary makes interesting reading, and explains how the "heavily legalistic approach" needs to evolve to acommodate Better Regulation principles, chiefly by "embedding strong structures at central level" and "actively embracing and advancing work on a comprehensive and coherent Better Regulation programme."

Ireland leads EU red tape effort

Since January 1st, Ireland holds the rotating presidency of the EU. Its commitment to smart regulation was confirmed in its 9 January 2013 statement already reported on this blog. From the chair, Ireland will be responsible for securing new developments in the next European Council conclusions. In a speech delivered in Brussels in January, the minister in charge indicated that the chair would "work towards agreement on new approaches to tackling 'red tape' and assess further methodologies and mechanisms for delivering smart regulation. The Irish Presidency will build on the progress already made in reducing business costs by the administrative burden reduction programmes carried out by the Commission and Member States." Meanwhile, on the home front, according to The Independent, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation estimates that the cost of doing business has fallen by €200m through savings introduced following the streamlining of companies office and health and safety regulations. The rationalisation of State employment agencies will also bring "significant" savings. The main simplification effort will be directed at reducing the cost of licences in the retail sector by 33 per cent by setting up a single portal for agencies.

Mexico federal district adopts anti-corruption agenda

On 6 February, the Prime minister of Mexico DF presented an anti-corruption plan that includes a regulatory reform and administration simplification dimension, to be finalised within some six to seven months. The plan which aims to enforce principles of rule-of-law, honesty, fairness, efficiency and effectiveness across public administrations, comprises 13 actions, including the creation of a Citizens' Council, on-line courses in ethics, an online corruption reporting site and a strengthening of internal controls. Regulatory reform and administrative simplification will be boosted with an update to the Single Transaction Catalog and Online Services accompanied by a performance evaluation system and measurement of user satisfaction.

11 February 2013

Caribbeans confront red tape

According to the Bermuda Royal Gazette (9 Feb) reporting the "Throne speech" (which outlines the Government’s legislative agenda for the upcoming year), the Bermuda Government has pledged to cut red tape and streamline avenues for job creation and business development. It intends to work closely with the private sector to create a more welcoming environment for local and international business, and seek advice on lowering debt. A Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission is to be created to streamline government processes, including quangos. The commission will provide “public independent guidance and advice to Government”. The commission will terminate its work after producing its final report, which is expected within six months of its formation.
A few days earlier, the Cayman Islands' new PM renewed the government's commitment "to reducing bureaucracy by modernizing the government's operations and reviewing existing processes, to make the business environment more inviting."

Smart enforcement tackles chemical industry (UK)

After the food industry (see previous post), the chemicals industry is benefitting from the Focus on Enforcement campaign, with more effective, less burdensome enforcement of regulation. Following a government-led consultation with the sector, new measures are announced in a press release dated 6 Feb. "Reforms include plans to integrate inspection regimes, provide greater support to companies who are considering growing their business, and to set out more transparent appeals mechanisms. This will help provide firms with greater certainty and more efficient regulation, enabling them to plan more effectively and concentrate on meeting business objectives."

Business orgs benchmark Smart Regulation

The OECD has invited BIAC (the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD) to co-operate in a benchmarking project aimed at ensuring that the OECD’s 2012 Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance is implemented as soon as possible in the member countries. "To increase the quality of the OECD’s assessment of the Recommendation’s implementation, the OECD project team wishes to involve national business organisations in the analysis and quality assessment of the answers that governments give to the planned annual survey. The project is a great opportunity for business organisations to communicate if governments have truly implemented the Recommendation not just in theory but also in practice. It is the first time that the OECD undertakes a quality proofing of member countries’ performance through expert assessments of results by business organisations instead of solely relying on information provided by the individual governments." (for more, see announcement on BIAC site).