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.
Background on regulatory quality, see "Archive" tab. To be regularly informed or share your news, join the Smart Regulation Group on LinkedIn: 1,300 members, or register as follower.

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.