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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31 December 2014

Big changes on the better regulation front (Brussels)

The new Commission, and specially its president Jean-Claude Junker, continues to develop the better regulation agenda as a key instrument of European policies and regulation, now making openings in particular on the issue of oversight which has been under discussion since at least 2007.
The European Commission's reformed Impact Assessment Board could one day evolve into an independent watchdog, scrutinising legislation on behalf of the executive, the EU Parliament and Council, says EurActiv quoting recent information.
The new board will advise the Commission, as part of the executive's drive for "better regulation" and to cut red tape.
According to the press release of 18 December, first Vice-President Timmerman said: "All members will be independent, working full time exclusively for the Board and be transparently selected on the basis of their expertise." The board will be able to review existing regulation in a "fitness check", and call upon the Commission to revise or withdraw the rules via a new legislative proposal. Edmund Stoiber was also announced as a special adviser on better regulation to the Commission. However, he will not be part of the new board, but advise the Commission directly.
While the College of Commissioners will still have final say on whether bills are proposed to the Council and Parliament, the Regulatory Scrutiny Board will be influential.
According to EurActiv, the reform is backed by Germany, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and France. Some of those countries are introducing their own equivalents at national level. The UK has campaigned for a fully independent scrutiny board, a call initially knocked back by the Commission. 
There is also news on the REFIT programme: on 17 December, the Commission adopted its Work Programme for 2015. In this context, the Commission confirmed all REFIT actions planned for implementation during 2015. A number of pending legislative proposals from previous Commissions will be withdrawn. Some do not match the new Commission's political priorities. In other cases, the Commission remains committed to the objectives but will propose new, better ways of achieving them. Observers comment on the breath and importance of the "culling" operation.
For the outline of the new policy, see also the "Junker paper": http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/docs/pg_en.pdf
The ten political guidelines were already defined in the Juncker paper presented on the day of his confirmation in Parliament, 15 July 2014. What is new are the "bullet points" specifying what he thinks could be achievable already in 2015.
Under the heading "A new boost for jobs, growth and investment" we find three items:
  • Jobs, growth and investment package (before end of 2014) and follow up
  • A review of the Europe 2020 strategy
  • A strengthened Better Regulation agenda

Eurasian RIA operational from 1 Jan 2015

On December 23, 2014 the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at the level of Heads of States at a meeting in Moscow adopted new Regulations of the Eurasian Economic Commission, including new sections – Chapter VIII "Pre-publication of draft decisions of the Commission, the Intergovernmental Council and the Supreme Council prepared by the Commission" and Chapter IX "Regulatory Impact Assessment of the Commission's draft decisions" coming into force on January 1, 2015. These sections should increase the transparency of the EEC, provide a preliminary assessment of decisions affecting doing business.
The specific mechanism of the "Eurasian" RIA, including exclusions (RIA targeting), was discussed at the international workshop held on December 12, 2014 in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation (from our correspondent in Moscow, D. Tsygankov).

06 December 2014

Smart Regulation back on track (EU)

Must-read for all smart regulators: the Competitiveness Council Conclusions on Smart Regulation, 2-3 December 2014.
Progress made by the Commission in the development of each of the tools of better regulation is reviewed. Special attention should be given to paragraphs concerning REFIT (see June Communication), ex-post evaluation, the SME dimension.
A summary of what is new can be found in a press release from one of the major stakeholders at EU level.
"EUROCHAMBRES particularly welcomes the following elements, which it has repeatedly advocated for many years:
  • Clear support for a rigorous application of the Think Small First principle across smart regulation tools, including the use of the SME test in impact assessments (IA);
  • Strong commitment to examine and debate all Commission IAs for legislative proposals and to send back an IA to the Commission if there are serious concerns about its quality;
  • Request to the Commission to enhance the IA process by bringing in external, independent expertise, in a systematic and transparent way and to ensure early involvement of stakeholders and member states" (see press release 4 Dec.)

Reactions to "new" smart regulation

The new orientations of the European Union's Smart Regulation agenda (see 13 October post) have naturally caused much comment and analysis. Among those that may be useful, let us single out Tom Ferris's expert contribution, which comes with a summary of the EC scheme to improve regulation and some interesting links to recent news at EU level.
See Public Affairs (Ireland) bulletin, 11 November 2014 "Will the new EC do 'better regulation' any better?" .

14 November 2014

Better RIA to support government policy (Georgia)

Earlier this week, the deputy minister of Economy, Mr M. Janelidze, (second from left on the above photo) opened a workshop for senior officials from several ministries and from Parliament on the development of regulatory impact assement in Georgian ministries. In his introduction, he called on the officials to intensify efforts to give effective application to this tool of better regulation, in the context of preparing the country for EU membership, but also to increase the performance of government by the production of effective and efficient legislation and regulation. The workshop had been organised by the American Chamber of Commerce, the EU-Georgia Business Council and donor organisations.
The main purpose of the workshop (which was moderated by your blogger CH Montin) was to take stock of existing RIA in Georgia and to recommend a plan of action to make better use of this aid to government decision making. Both the evidence base and the consultation process needed to be significantly improved if the full potential of RIA was to be achieved. Some practical steps were agreed between participants at the close of the discussion:
- Issuing a high-level explicit Government statement on the importance of good quality RIA documents to be prepared for the most economically significant new legislations, and emphasizing the importance of effective consultation with stakeholders on draft legislation;
- defining a Georgian RIA methodology after discussion based on international best practice, in particular as reported by OECD publications;
- building capacities in the ministries by freeing officials from other tasks to start practicing RIA on the basis if possible of current or past legislations;
- setting up an oversight body in charge of verifying the quality of RIAs before the corresponding draft legislation is finalised.
Stakeholders and ministry officials expressed their determination to actively pursue the development of RIA in support of more effective, businesss-friendly regulations in Georgia. (photo below: the moderator with some of the course members.)

07 November 2014

Lebanon launches new simplification drive in 4 ministries

For several years, the office of the minister of State for administrative reform (OMSAR) has been conducting simplification projects, with the objectives of raising the efficiency of the administration and making life easier for citizens. See for instance a presentation made at OECD in 2012, with earlier stages explained in a 2008 contribution to an OECD MENA workshop. Now with the support of funding from the EU, things are expected to accelerate. In April this year, EuropeAid issued a service contract notice EuropeAid/134308/D/SER/LB (with OMSAR as contracting authority).
The contract - "Technical assistance to the administrative simplification in selected ministries in Lebanon (Ministries of Social Affairs, Tourism, Public Health and Industry") - was awarded in August 2014 to a consortium composed of ACE International Consultants (leader), the Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU), Aldar Consulting (Lebanon) and the Lithuanian Institute of Public Administration (LIVADIS). See the decision reported by dgMarket. Work is expected to start by the end of the month of November.
The project aims to improve the responsiveness of the administration to the demands of the general public and business community by streamlining and simplifying/re-engineering administrative procedures and business processes at four beneficiary ministries: the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Industry. The project shall focus on complex, non-transparent, time consuming, and vague administrative procedures that result in low quality of public services and in inefficiency in the public administrations. It will allow the beneficiary ministries to operate in a more transparent, efficient, cost effective, and timely manner and reduce Administrative Burdens on citizens and businesses.
ACE had proposed a Technical Assistance Team (TAT) composed of the following experts:
  • Charles Henry Montin, team leader
  • Tareq Touqan, regulatory reform expert (right on photo)
  • Tullio Morganti, Business Process Re-Engineering expert
  • Zouha Sakr-Vayanos, Expert in Lebanese Law (second from left)
  • Imen Dridi, Project Assistant

Cutting EU red tape (UK report)

Network friend J. Farrell (UK) draws our attention to a report of interest to all smart regulation watchers. BIS and the PMO have just published Cut EU red tape: one year on - progress report. This official document gives an update on what the UK has achieved in implementing each of the 30 individual recommendations in the October 2013 Business Taskforce report on reducing EU regulation.
The report also details support received for the COMPETE principles, which aim to filter out any new EU regulations or legislation that are not pro-growth. These principles (see page 8 of the Oct. 2013 report mentioned above) are:
  • competitiveness test
  • one-in, one-out
  • measure impacts
  • proportionate rules
  • exemptions and lighter regimes
  • target for burden reduction
  • evaluate and enforce

06 November 2014

Nudging fully explained (in Spanish)

Smart Regulator Prof. J. Ponce (Barcelona) has just published (in the Acts of the 9th congress of the Spanish association of professors of administrative law) a full-length study entitled "Nudging, administrative simplification and good regulatory governance: the 21st century administrative law and its relations with social sciences." (caution: pdf file 3.7Mb).
Prof. Ponce investigates how the new social sciences tools can help administrative law, including the use of discretionary powers by public authorities, be more efficient in this century. New insights from behavioural sciences into motivations that move the citizen must be factored into a modernised approach to designing and implementing regulation. Nudging is one of these new promising techniques, to be deployed alongside RIA and consultation.

28 October 2014

How to design market-friendly regulation (Nobel)

It's good news for all smart regulators when the Nobel prize for economy is given to an expert who has devoted part of his research to the negative impact of regulation on economic activity, chiefly by regulatory interference with markets, and offering solutions.
An article in last week's Economist (18 October) examines Mr Tirole's contribution under the title "It's complicated" (one of the laureate's favorite phrases). "Making sure companies compete fairly is a tricky business. The firms being regulated know far more about their business than those doing the regulating; bureaucrats can easily end up being too heavy-handed or too lax. On October 13th Jean Tirole, a French economist at the Toulouse School of Economics, was awarded the Nobel prize in economics for his work on this conundrum—"industrial organisation", in the jargon."

Stoiber Group: final report

On 14 October, the Commission published an update on outgoing President's action for EU law: 
"Under the title "Smart Regulation in the EU – Building on a Strong Foundation" politicians, stakeholders and experts have been examining the achievements and persisting challenges in the field of smart regulation, administrative burden reduction and better implementation of EU legislation. On this occasion, Dr Edmund Stoiber, the Chairman of the independent High Level Group on Administrative Burdens advising the Commission since 2007, will hand over the group's final report to President José Manuel Barroso.

14 October 2014

SCM/Simplification Job opportunity in Beirut

Description of position
Title: Project assistant
Based in Beirut, Lebanon
Assisting the international Technical Assistance Team (TAT) to deliver a project on simplification of administrative procedures and rules in 4 Lebanese ministries.
Starting soon after 15 November
Two-year contract for full time work.Answer via LinkedIn.

Main skills required
Assisting the international Technical Assistance Team in delivering a project on simplification of administrative procedures and rules in 4 Lebanese ministries.
Knowledge of the Lebanese administrative context
Previous experience of decentralised projects funded by the EU (desirable)
Languages: Arabic, English, French, written and spoken.
Starting soon after 15 November
Two-year contract for full time work.

Terms of employment to be settled with the consortium in charge of the project.
Applications via CH MONTIN, chmontin@numericable.fr (head TAT)

13 October 2014

New VP for Better Regulation (EC)

It seems that the new Commission will follow the lead of its predecessor at least for Better Regulation. As was the case for the 1st Barroso Commission, the first VP will again be in charge of our dossier, which may have dropped the "Smart" and returned to the old days of "Better" Regulation. The Commission presided by Mr Jean-Claude Junker has just published the allocation of portolios:
"As first Vice-President, in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Mr Timmermans will work closely with the other Vice-Presidents, and all Commissioners will liaise closely with him when it concerns the implementation of the better regulation agenda. In addition, for initiatives requiring a decision by the Commission in their area of responsibility, he will guide the work of the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality and the Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs."
A Commission press release present among the "important novelties" the fact that "for the first time there is a Commissisioner dedicated to a Better Regulation agenda, and that Mr Timmermans "will notably ensure that every Commission proposal respects the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, which are at the heart of the work of the Commission. The first Vice-President will also act as a watchdog, upholding the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the rule of law in all of the Commission's activities."
For a professional analysis, see CEPS Commentary by our friends L. Schrefler, A. Renda and J. Pelkmans.

04 September 2014

Smart regulation for smart cities (India)

For many, the Indian administration gives the image of a bureaucratic fortress very unwillingly to reform and embrace smart regulation. In that context, it may be interesting to monitor the Government's new plan to develop 100 smart cities across the country. Though a definition of a smart city is yet to be formulated by the government, the Urban Development Secretary, speaking at a real estate conference in Dehli, said private investment would be facilitated, better use would be made of land, and consequently these cities would create more jobs and "ensure better quality of life comparable with any European or American city."
For more, visit Economic Times.

01 September 2014

New French govt befriends business

A severe political crisis rocked the French state last week, from which emerged a new government, still under the leadership of Mr Manuel Valls, who had resigned as Prime Minister a few days earlier following left wing opposition within governement to his economic policy. The new agenda, much closer to what is termed "liberal" views in France (pro-business), also labelled "social democrat" policy, was illustrated by a visit on 27 August to the summer meeting of the Employers' federation during which the Prime Minister , during which Mr Valls promised to accelerate administrative simplification to bring about a new "era of trust".
A new omnibus law will enact a batch of simplifications, starting with a charter of tax controls and the appointment of a mediator for business. A set of some 50 urgent measures to streamline red tape on construction is already being implemented.
For more, see public sector newsletter Acteurs Publics.

26 May 2014

Institution-building for regulatory reform in MENA

The group having a break (photo: Ayman)
Three years after the beginning of the Arab spring, it was a good idea to take stock of current initiatives to improve economic governance in the MENA region, reflect on their relevance and make suggestions as to channels of further progress.
Such was the ambition of a workshop organised by the university of Granada, at the initiative of Jesus Florido Banqueri, former director of INSTEA, who is also the director for MENA of SICIDOMINUS, a consulting firm leading many governance projects in the MENA and Europe regions.
The workshop was part of the 4th Master's course in Public Governance in the Arab World, designed for middle-rank public officials from MENA countries.
Your blogger was honoured to participate by contributing views on "International Cooperation in Economic Institutions Building in the MENA Region." This was an opportunity to present the contribution of institutions to Regulatory Reform, and to draw up a list of international organisations (OECD, World Bank...) and initiatives (Deauville Partnership, Open Government Partnership, EuroMed...) aiming at building such capacities in MENA. Participants agreed that the multiplicity of donors, their differing objectives and procedures, posed a challenge for national officials seeking to tap the potential of international expertise to support the necessary economic reforms in their countries.
Some of the slides are made available on this blog.
For more on the topic, see a January 2014 "quick note" from the World Bank: "Strengthening Governance and Institutions in MENA: issues and priorities."

Deregulation on the agenda for Iraki KRG judges

Following up on previous workshops held in Erbil and Granada in 2012, a new session was held in Ankara earlier this month to complete a cycle of professional training in legislative drafting for judges of the Kurdish region of Iraq (KRG). Funded by the World Bank, supported by the Turkish government and moderated by your blogger (C.H. Montin), this workshop brought together the same judges belonging to the Shura Council (Consultative Assembly) of the KRG and a team of international experts. The judges and experts exchanged information and views focused on the "cutting edge" of better regulation: deregulation techniques supporting the improvement of the regulatory environmnent of business. Course members actively discussed the relevance of national practice of neighbouring countries (Lebanon and Turkey) as well as advanced legislative techniques presented by D. Macrae (UK) and E. Maurice (Lithuania), and sought to draw lessons for their own work. The course was given a practical illustration by visits to the Turkish Constitutional Court and Council of State. Among the techniques examined at this session the most promising were held to be: the "guillotine", statute law revision and in-built review and sunset clauses. Some of the moderator's slides on "Techniques" and "Deregulation" are also made available on this blog.
For a very good introduction to the subject matter, see "Tools and Approaches to Review Existing Regulations" published by the World Bank which gives an overview of the numerous techniques and good examples of their implementation.

Swedish report on regulatory cooperation

H. Lund, senior adviser in the Swedish Board of Trade, draws our attention to an interesting new report which contributes to one of the most challenging dimensions of regulatory cooperation. The following is a quote from a Board's news report:
Free movement of goods and services are increasingly dependent on preventing and eliminating technical barriers. Therefore, technical barriers to trade between the EU and the U.S. are a key issue in the ongoing free trade agreement negotiations, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This is also established in the National Board of Trade's new report "Regulatory Co-operation and Technical Barriers to Trade within Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)".
The report has been produced as a contribution to the negotiations and highlights the regulatory aspects of TTIP. It outlines how the regulatory systems for trade in goods is structured in the EU and the U.S. and provides an analysis how TTIP relates to the WTO legal framework and existing free trade agreements. The report also includes an analysis of how TTIP can affect five selected sectors: automotive, information- and communication technology (ICT), chemicals, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
The challenge in the negotiations consists of finding the level of regulatory cooperation that offers clear benefits in terms of enhanced trade opportunities between the U.S. and the EU. This, while legitimate interests such as health and safety are maintained and while observing that trade conditions with third countries are not impaired. An important part of the analysis is to clarify the Swedish interests and estimate the extent to which they coincide with the interests put forward by various stakeholders in the EU.

Simplification: the new French government's priorities

A new government was appointed by President Hollande on 31 March under the leadership of Mr Manuel Valls, former minister of the interior, and the most popular minister in the previous government. What difference will that make to the Better Regulation policy in France.
Some answers are provided by the communication of the Council of Ministers of 30 April, which in essence extends the previous reform policies, under the headline goal of "implementation of the simplification shock". Here is a summary of the new orientations:
- "The modernization should be business-oriented , but cater also to the citizens": there is a strong vocal component of the Socialist party who do not want a priority for a business-oriented agenda, hence this well-balanced outlook;
- The "simplification factory": the Mandon - Poitrinal report launched the idea which is supposed to increase both the speed and intensity of the simplification shock;
- Consultation: the communication highlights the work of the Simplification Council established in January (50 proposals being implemented);
- "Project facilitators" in each département (100 in France) are entrusted with simplifying the relationship between government and business (no details given); 
- Legal simplification: a law dated 2 January 2014 empowers the Government to simplify and secure the operation of businesses; a new bill will further delegate to Government the simplifications of primary legislation; 
- A moratorium similar to the "One-In, One-out" in force since September 2013 will be applied to primary legislation, with benefits and costs of new legislation carefully screened; 
- Lex silencio to be given full authority from November 2014 for central administration and November 2015 for local authorities.
- This national proactive approach to simplification needs to be extended to the European level, says the report.

Egypt's ERRADA resumes its mission

After a 20 month interruption, the Egyptian Regulatory Reform and Development Activity (ERRADA) announced its re-activation as of March 2014 , in order to review regulations related to the business environment. Under new leadership, the agency will aim to complete the inventory and the review of related topics affecting the business climate, and establish a database service and an electronic registry compiling all applicable regulations. 
In doing so, the agency will promote the tools of Better Regulation, specially RIA (regulatory impact assessment) and ex-post evaluation, addressing respectively the flow and stock of regulation. For more, see on ERRADA site the announcements by the minister in charge and the executive director of ERRADA, Tarek Hamza. See also this blog's 2012 post on ERRADA.

16 March 2014

Moscow Higher School of Economics discusses Smart Regulation

(Photo Natalya Kazmina )The international workshop organised by the National Research University 'Higher School of Economics(NRU HSE) on 'Development of smart regulation mechanisms: towards a new regulatory policy in Russia' on 14 March was, in your blogger's view, a great success. A success because of the high number (around 60) of participants from not only Moscow administrations, but also from the business community and the other levels of governement (regions and from the Eurasian Economic Commission); and a success for the quality and scope of the discussions.
The RF authorities will draw their own (official) conclusions, but in the meantime, your blogger noted that several key points met with some degree of consensus:
- the need to complete the regulatory policy agenda, currently heavily dependent on RIA, with other BR components such as an overall explicit policy, some type of quality and performace oversight function to check that the policy is effective, a formal consultation policy, etc. 
- thanks to the presence of business sector representatives and supra and sub-national levels of government, it was quite clear that there was a real need for a coordination and consultation process to bring together all the regulators, in the interest of the economy at large and the civil society;
- most encouraging was the adherence of all participants to the principle that regulatory policy was indeed a great priority for the the growth of the economy thanks to more efficient markets and, accessorily, a better Doing Business ranking.
Our warm thanks and congratulations to Daniel Tsygankov, (and his director Andrey Klimenko, Head of the Institute for Public Administration and Municipal Management) for organising what may later appear as the official launch of Smart Regulation in the Russian Federation.
Programme and all presentations online at http://regulatory-policy.hse.ru/en/pres and photos on Daniel's Facebook page (link above).
For Russian speakers, see "Smart Regulation in 1200 words", now in Russian as УМНОЕ РЕГУЛИРОВАНИЕ

10 March 2014

Canada legislates One-for-One Rule and releases Red Tape Scorecard

(Announcement) On January 29th , Treasury Board President Tony Clement introduced the Red Tape Reduction Act (Bill C-21) in Parliament to enshrine the One-for-One Rule in law (see news release). The One-for-One Rule is the cornerstone of the Canadian Red Tape Reduction Action Plan. On January 28th, The Government of Canada released its first Scorecard Report outlining the substantial progress made in cutting red tape for Canadian business, under the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan (see news release).

Evaluation in support of RIA: the Russian experience

Our network friend Daniel Tsygankov from Moscow has just co-authored an interesting article on the "growth of the evaluation profession" published by the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation.
"Evaluation is an emerging field in Russia, and the authors have been intensively involved in it for over a decade. This article explores the evolution of evaluation capacity and describes the growth of evaluator competencies in Russia. It focuses on areas with extensive development: (a) the institutionalization of regulatory impact assessment in the public sector, (b) evaluation's development in nongovernmental organizations, (c) the growth of monitoring and evaluation capacity in private foundations, and (d) the emergence of local independent evaluation consulting. Although no common definition of evaluator competencies exists in Russia, the role may be included in a professional registry currently under development."

British regulatory watchdog shows teeth

The UK independent regulatory oversight body, the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) has just released its 2013 annual activity report, which makes good reading for experts seeking to ascertain the possible authority of such an institution.
The RPC gives figures on how many new departmental proposals for regulatory change it has examined and how it has dealt with departmental estimates as to the anticipated regulatory costs for business and others, showing a strong determination to improve the evidence base for decisions concerning new regulation.
Excerpts from the Executive Summary:
- (the Committee) "rated 75% of first-time impact assessment submissions as fit for purpose, a reduction from 81% in 2012. The reasons for this are not completely clear. In some cases, the work may have been hurried due to parliamentary timetables. In other cases, the pressure to meet the One-in, Two-out policy may have reduced the accuracy of departmental estimates. The introduction of the fast track system in August 2012 makes comparisons between years harder, because some simpler cases no longer need to go through the full scrutiny route. This means that those subject to full scrutiny are now, on average, more complex.
- (the Committee) published four red-rated opinions as a result of departments consulting on proposed new regulations despite the RPC rating the impact assessment as not fit for purpose. "

06 March 2014

Smart regulation arrives in Moscow (conference)

(Announcement from Moscow) On March 14, 2014 the National Research University 'Higher School of Economics' (NRU HSE) will host an international workshop 'Development of smart regulation mechanisms: towards a new regulatory policy in Russia'.
The workshop consists of two plenary sessions ('scientific-oriented' and 'practical-oriented'). In turn, the latter is organized by levels of regulation — supranational, national and subnational.
The first session speakers are: Senior adviser on regulatory reform in Ministry of Finance of France, editor of the international blog Smartregulation.net Charles-Henri MONTIN — on potential of OECD countries' best practices in regulatory reform; Head of the RIA Center at the Higher School of Economics Daniel TSYGANKOV — on promising tools for improving regulatory decisions quality; Director General of Information-Consulting Centre "Business Tezaurus" Oleg SHESTOPEROV — on approaches to the rulemaking 'limitation' in the field of business regulation.
The second session speakers are: Director of the Department for Development of Entrepreneurship of the Eurasian Economic Commission Rustam AKBERDIN — on practical regulatory impact analysis in the Eurasian Economic Commission; Director of Program Planning and Regulatory Impact Assessment Department of the Ministry of Economy and Planning of the Ulyanovsk region Maksim SVETUNKOV — on experience of conducting RIA in the region; representative of the RIA Department of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia — practical experience of conductingRIA in the executive bodies, representative of the Economic Department of the State Duma of Russia — the use of financial-economic justification tools in legislative work.
The conference will be broadcast live on the internet, at addresses available on the HSE site on 14 March from 10:00 to 18:00.

19 February 2014

Regelradet publishes 2013 report (Sweden)

The fifth Annual Report from the Swedish Better Regulation Council (Regelrådet) is now available in English on this oversight body's website. Regelrådet is one of the four model independent oversight bodies and has developed a great expertise in the quality control of regulatory impact assessments (RIAs) and the effectiveness of the national administrative burden reduction programmes. This year's report gives analyses the quality of RIAs submitted by government agencies and outlines the main areas for improvement.

Better Regulation can facilitate trade: proceedings of conference

We reported briefly on the conference organised at OECD on 10 February on "Trade and International Regulatory Cooperation."
The OECD informs us that it has uploaded the agenda, the list of participants and all the presentations on a dedicated Trade Committee page.
We warmly recommend visiting these very valuable resources, which show a very promising new workstream for the Regulatory Policy and the Trade Committees of OECD.

18 February 2014

Better regulation makes progress in China

According to China News, the State Council, China's cabinet, scrapped another batch of government administrative approval requirements on 15 February in a bid to boost market-oriented activities in the economy. According to the announcement, 82 administrative approvals in the telecoms and insurance industries have been cut or made easier to obtain, including canceling the approval of telecommunications services fees and canceling the qualified assessment for insurance assessment practitioners. It is the fifth time the cabinet has reduced red tape since the new leadership took office last year. This change of policy was also clear in the December revision of the Administrative Procedure Act, which has been amended to stress citizens' right to sue. New stipulations include instructions that more rights infringement cases are to be accepted by the courts, for instance cases in which administrators have infringed ownership or rights to use natural resources such as forests, pasture, mineral reserves, mountains and water. Courts shall also be required to accept suits concerning infringement of rural land contracts and management rights, illegal fundraising, unlawful collection or requisition of property, or unfairly apportioned fees. Citizens may bring cases against governments which fail to provide appropriate subsistence allowances or social insurance benefits. There is also a call for new regulation to be more evidence-based: Yuan Jie, of the NPC Standing Committee's legislative affairs commission, believes an important principle for amending any law is to solve the most outstanding problems in the litigation process. A law must be easy to apply in the real world, and many field studies were conducted while drafting the amendment, involving court clerks, ordinary citizens and lawyers, said Yuan. The difficulty in obliging courts to even file a case in the first place was the most frequently voiced problem. Therefore the draft amendment adds many new articles in this aspect. "A law must be revised based on solid field study and must respect public opinion," she said

8 mesures pour attirer les capitaux étrangers (France)

For this news in English, see N.Y.Times "France Tries to Tempt In More Foreign Investment" (17 Feb).

Poursuivant sa nouvelle politique économique davantage tournée vers l'investissement, et dans le contexte de la baisse de l'afflux de capitaux étrangers, le président F. Hollande a annoncé lors de la première réunion du conseil stratégique de l'attractivité  de nouvelles mesures pour améliorer la compétitivité de la France, que ce soit en matière de réforme marché du travail ou sur le terrain de la baisse des charges avec les discussions engagées sur le pacte de responsabilité Parmi elles, la suppression dès 2014 de la "déclaration préalable pour créer une entreprise en France par un investisseur étranger"  et lcréation de "France international entrepreneurs" regroupant l'Agence française des investissements internationaux et Ubifrance, la structure chargée d'accompagner les entreprises françaises à l'export. En parallèle, d'ici à la fin du premier trimestre, les start-up étrangères devraient disposer d'un interlocuteur unique pour leurs démarches. De plus, en 2015, le régime de la TVA applicable aux entreprises importatrices sera simplifié et, dès la fin de 2014, toutes les procédures en douane, à l'export comme à l'import, seront dématérialisées.  Pour le détail des autres mesures, voir Le Monde du 17 février. On signalera aussi un résumé des orientations de la politique de simplification en faveur des entreprises dans un discours prononcé  par le président de la République à Blagnac le 9 janvier.

Upgraded tool to monitor red-tape reduction (Philippines)

According to the PH Information Agency, the Philippine Civil Service Commission (CSC) entered into a partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the enhancement of the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) Report Card Survey (RCS), Feb. 14. From the press release:

"ARTA RCS is an instrument used to check agency compliance with the various ARTA provisions, to gauge citizens’ satisfaction with the quality of government services, and to ask the citizens—as clients—to directly rate the performance of government offices insofar as frontline service delivery is concerned.The study on the ARTA RCS forms part of the Component 2 of the Integrity for Investments Initiative (i3) Project – Reducing Opportunities for Public Sector Corruption. It aims to provide the CSC with clear and implementable recommendations on how the Report Card Survey can be amended, revised, or reengineered to make the tool more effective and responsive for monitoring compliance to ARTA and anti-corruption laws and regulations.CSC Chairman Francisco T. Duque III expressed gratitude to the USAID and the Ateneo School of Government for the project. “We are confident that, with technical experts aboard, backed by a funding agency that is committed to assist countries like the Philippines in strengthening democracy and good governance, the project will result in a more effective implementation of the Anti-Red Tape Law,” he said.As the lead implementer of Republic Act No. 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, the CSC is at the forefront of cutting red tape and improving government frontline services. (...)The i3 Project is an undertaking by the Government of the Philippines and the US Government funded by the USAID that will work with anti-corruption offices to address the most serious constraints to economic growth by reducing the costs of corruption to investments and trade, thereby promoting open and fair competition.The research study is targeted to be completed by May 2014. (CSC)"

17 February 2014

Burdens reduced for European industrial products

Strengthening the effectiveness of the internal market for industrial products was identified as a priority in the October 2012 update on an Integrated Industrial Policy. Accordingly, the European Commission carried out an evaluation of EU law in the area of industrial products to assess the regulatory framework’s overall coherence and ‘fitness for purpose’ and to develop an evidence base on the cumulative regulatory effects from an industry perspective. In parallel, the Commission organised a public consultation of stakeholders. The ensuing Communication "A vision for the internal market for industrial products"  pushes for a more integrated internal market based on rationalising the existing regulatory framework. The Commission will also prepare a Regulation on Enforcement to help reinforce a level-playing field for compliant products in the EU. The Enterprise Europe Network will be reinforced to strengthen support for SMEs in the internal market and further enhance the assistance given for access to finance and for the innovation management capacity of SMEs. The new proposal contributes to the overall reduction of administrative burdens by aligning industrial product rules to a common set of principles thereby reducing sectoral fragmentation and conflicting or overlapping requirements for products which are governed by more than one piece of legislation. See press release dated 5 February and DG ENTR pages.

Conference on the impact of regulatory reform (World Bank)

On February 20 & 21, 2014, the World Bank Group will convene a research conference titled, Doing Business: Past, Present and Future of Business Regulation at the McDonough School of Business in Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The conference is co-sponsored by USAID and the Kauffman Foundation. The conference aims to bring together academics, World Bank Group staff and development professionals from around the world to discuss the impact of regulatory reform and to guide the Doing Business report project in the years to come. In the context of recent criticism levelled at the annual Doing Business ranking, this new wave of academic papers is expected to bolster the robustness of this major tool for comparing economies and their regulatory policies.

TTIP "creating regulatory coherence"

As a sequel to the post just below on "Better Regulation can facilitate trade", experts may like to check out A. Alemanno's reflections on the upcoming transatlantic trade negotiations (TTIP), published on his blog, which summarize for us a recent trend towards regulatory convergence or coherence across the "pond" in support of the further development of commercial exchanges. Here is an extract: "Given the emphasis of the agreement on tackling regulatory barriers, both the EU and US claim that TTIP would be  (...) one of the first FTAs construed upon a horizontal (i.e. cross-sectoral), regulatory coherence chapter, which should also remain a ‘living’ agreement, capable of incorporating news areas and creating the conditions to continuously adapt towards greater regulatory compatibility. This chapter would apply to all goods and services sectors thus providing a general discipline for policymakers when monitoring existing regulations and adopting new ones (NB: regulations here refer to both legislative and regulatory measures). More specifically, this horizontal regime is set to promote regulatory convergence through the adoption of a suite of procedural requirements, such as public consultation, regulatory impact assessment (RIA extended to cross-border effects), early warnings, ex post analysis of existing regulations, etc. that build upon – rather than duplicating – existing procedures under the relevant WTO Agreements, i.e. SPS and TBT. These will be upgraded within TTIP by becoming SPS+ and TBT+, but we don’t know yet whether the additions to the current discipline will merely consist in further procedural requirements or other disciplines. At a time of growing international interest and policy diffusion of these meta-rules (i.e. rules about how to adopt rules) and relatively failure of the multilateral trade regime to address NTBs, the prospect of using participatory and analytical tools to promote rationality in regulatory decision-making beyond the nation-state appears extremely appealing."

12 February 2014

"Better regulation can facilitate trade" (OECD)

OECD (Regulatory Policy Committee) work on International Regulatory Cooperation (IRC) has taken a big step forward with the organisation of a one-day joint workshop with the Trade Committee to investigate how sound regulatory policy could enhance the quality and effectiveness of trade agreements. It was also the first time that the newish community of regulatory experts formally joined forces with the Trade pundits to tap the potential of a synergy between the two bodies of expertise.
In the morning delegates heard a series of presentations (including one from A. Alemanno who recently wrote on the TTIP negotiations) researching how trade barriers related to regulatory heterogeneity could weigh down the desirable development of international commerce and thus impede growth. The afternoon session (chaired by your blogger) featured six national cases of successful experience with IRC mechanisms in support of trade policies and FTA negotiations. The closing session, chaired by the UK delegation, outlined a future programme of work that would substantiate the conclusion (formulated by F.van Tongeren from OECD) that "Better Regulation can facilitate trade." No doubt official proceedings will soon be made available on the IRC and Trade pages of the OECD site.
Background. Recent OECD work on Global Value Chains has provided a strong reminder of the importance of reducing protectionist measures, improving inefficient and unnecessary customs and other border procedures, and reducing the cost of ‘behind the border’ measures that constrain trade in goods and services. In particular, regulatory misalignment, both in policy formulation and application, increases the costs facing firms operating internationally and holds back growth and job-creation. The OECD publication "IRC: addressing global challenges" makes the point that IRC is intensifying but there are also concerns that multilateral and regional trade deals could lead to a weakening of legitimate domestic regulations. Achieving regulatory and policy objectives in an increasingly globalised world while respecting the need for openness internationally can be a challenge for governments.

03 February 2014

Naming and shaming bureaucrats (Canada)

Paperweight Awards (2) and Dishonourable Mentions (3) are some of the "prizes" awarded by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) at the close of its fifth annual Red Tape Awareness WeekTM to ministries not sufficiently attuned to the need to make life easier for SMEs. This is a highly visible way of drawing attention to worst cases of red tape, where administrations have cooked "ridiculous rules" imposing extra burden on small business. Most cases seem to be a knee-jerk reaction to a real issue such as fraud where the whole business sector is punished for the disdemeanour of a few truants, or the slopiness of the rule, where other solutions may have been just as effective, but at the cost of some extra work for the public agencies. It is difficult to say whether this "naming and shaming" technique is effective, but it has the merit of sending a strong signal that consultation on a review of the rules is necessary.

Tanzania announces regulatory reforms

At the official launching of the OECD's investment policy review of Tanzania, the Prime Minister announced his intention to grapple with "the most problematic areas in the performance of business sector in the country (which) include access to credit, corruption, complex procedures in securing construction permits, cross-border trade licenses, payment of taxes, land and property registration... The government would now make delibefrate efforts to review the legal framework and regulations that have been deterring smooth operation of investment projects." A booming economy with enviable growth rates, Tanzania still suffers from a poor Doing Business ranking (145th out of 189 in the 2014 report.) For more, see IP Media and read the summary of the review on the OECD site.

Bulgarian businessmen list BR priorities

At a press conference on 31 January of representatives of national employers' associations, the Chair of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry listed key obstructions faced by businesses, including red tape, constantly changing laws and limited access to funding. He emphasized that the Bulgarian President had not carried out his promise made upon assuming office to veto any law which had reached the stage of parliamentary debates without an impact assessment. He added that Bulgarian laws required a "repeat impact assessment" every six months, which had not happened so far.
Other priorities to improve the regulatory environment for business include harmonising tariffs for issuing permits across municpalities, reduction and simplification of the regulatory burden, the mandatory preparation of impact assessment of all laws and progress in the adoption of e-government.

29 January 2014

Regulatory Discretion contributes to Smart Regulation

Our thanks to friend Florentin Blanc, the acknowledged expert on the inspections reform, who has shared with us a summary of the international seminar on regulatory discretion that took place at the International Academy for Legislation on 5 December 2013. Here are some of the insights. "Discretion in implementation of regulations is not only unavoidable in practice (there can be no entirely “neutral” enforcement, there is no rule that does not require some degree of interpretation) – but necessary to ensure that implementation of regulations leads to the desired outcomes of regulation. Without discretion, there is a real risk that enforcement is done in a “tick box” way, with two potential downsides: missing the real threats and risks, and harming the economy without a real positive impact on what the regulation aims to achieve (e.g. safety). At the same time, it is essential to have safeguards, in particular accountability, as a counterpart to discretion."
"From an economic perspective, discretion is undeniably needed to ensure that costs and benefits of regulation are optimised. From a legal perspective, it is seen that (a) whether or not discretion is allowed (for regulators, for courts) depends on the context (country, legal tradition, fact-finding or deciding on sanction etc.) and (b) the evolution of laws and norms (transformations in wording where it is less and less “self evident” whether a given situation is or is not in violation), the complexification of economic activities etc. lead to a gradual slide towards more (explicit) discretion.
"At the same time, there are serious potential concerns with discretion. The first is lack of consistency in treatment, from one inspector or officer to the other. The second is what can happen in a situation where professionalism of public officials is low, ethics are in doubt, wrong incentives are present etc. so that corruption and abuse of power are a real possibility. In such situation, more discretion will lead to more corruption and worse outcomes at all levels. Discretion may also be abused by regulators not for personal gain, but for excessive demands for “ever more safety”. In such situations, “regulating regulators” may not be enough, and looking for alternative mechanisms to ensure compliance (e.g. insurance requirements rather than inspections) may be interesting."

3000 rules on business to be scrapped (UK)

The Coalition will have been the "first government in history to end its term in office leaving behind fewer regulations than existed when it came to power", said the British PM to the Federation of Small Businesses, in a conference well reported and discussed online. Watch David Cameron explain the policy and give some examples of existing "pointless" red tape which still need to be scapped on the BBC site. "More than 3,000 rules affecting business will be dropped or changed, saving more than £850m a year, he told the FSB. They include 640 pages of cattle movement guidance, 286 pages of hedgerow regulations and 380 pages of waste management rules."

China continues to reduced number of licenses

According to the Wall Street Journal (online) the Chinese government has renewed its commitment, already announced in December 2013 (see previous post) to reducing the number of license procedures that need state approval. The effort will be focused on areas like telecommunications, water, transport and online education, the State Council said in a statement after its first meeting of 2014. "Doing away with administrative snarls and giving a bigger role to market forces are priorities for Premier Li Keqiang. He pledged to cut by a third the things demanding state stamps of approval by the end of his first five years in power. The council will publish a list of things still needing an administrative OK from all government agencies, it said in a statement."
A December article in Reuters reported the sweeping reforms published in November 2013 by China's ruling Communist Party which promised to free up the market by simplifying administration and "restrict central government management of microeconomic issues to the greatest possible extent". "Sources have said the policy document is likely to pave the way for a long-anticipated restructuring of government departments next March, which could result in the creation of new energy and environment "superministries" and a scaling back of the roles and responsibilities of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The NDRC, a sprawling superministry with a huge swathe of duties ranging from cutting greenhouse gases to deciding energy prices, has long been under fire for resisting reform and for making heavy-handed interventions in the economy."

Red tape slows trade on Indian subcontinent

According to the Times of India, "Commerce ministers from Saarc countries who met recently spoke of increasing trade within the region but a study shows how the subregion in South Asia comprising India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan remains one of the toughest places to move goods due to archaic procedures. Sample this: it may take up to a month for pulses, juices and carpets to move within three countries, when the actual driving time is much less. 
The study done by Delhi-based thinktank Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) for Asian Development Bank and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific has detailed how trade through three key corridors in the four countries faces major delay because of tardy procedural clearances. For example, procedural approvals for both importers and exporters to transport pulses from Nepal to Bhutan via India takes at least 23 days."

24 January 2014

EU Red tape denounced at Davos

According to the Daily Telegraph, the UK Prime Minister has renewed his attack against Brussels bureaucracy at the Davos summit: "The European Commission is so obsessed with red tape that it believes removing regulations which damage businesses is an "act of self harm". Speaking in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Cameron said that the "fight is not yet won" as he set out plans for further reforms of the European Union ahead of a proposed referendum in 2017. He said that some European Commission officials think that they are "not doing their job" if they are not producing new regulations. He added that the European Parliament is tempted to "gold plate" every piece of regulation. He said that the EU is putting a potential fracking revolution which could lead to lower energy bills at risk with "burdensome, unjustified and premature regulatory burdens". He said: "There are still people who think that the key to success is ever greater social protections and more regulations.

Canada's 5th annual Red Tape Awareness Week

According to a press release taken up by several media, the 5th edition of Canada's Red Tape Awareness Week™ (from 27 January) will continue to demonstrate " how real the red tape burden is for business owners and ordinary Canadians, and where we are in the effort to reduce that burden. " From a report card that grades individual governments on their own red tape reduction efforts to recognizing leadership that has made a difference in cutting it, the event will be worth following. See also this blog's post on last year's edition.

22 January 2014

Gulf standardisation agencies study BR tools

(Photo: members of two of the three breakout groups at work under the supervision of Miriam Allam, OECD, in charge of the course. Click to enlarge) 

RIA experts know the importance of checking, at the early stages of analysis of new legislation, the potential of "alternatives to regulation" as another way to reach the substantive policy objectives that their agency or ministry is pursuing without increasing the rule book while improving stakeholder input. Among these alternatives, standards occupy a central position as they can greatly contribute to an efficient business regulatory environment. In this context, the initiative of the Gulf Standardisation Organisation (GSO) to hold a seminar for officials from all Gulf states opens great promise of better regulation in the Gulf region, through the use of better evidence-based and consulted technical standards. Under the title "Building a practical framework for RIA", the course covered all the stages of the RIA process, after which delegates addressed ways and means of making the most of the potential of RIA to improve standards in the region, using international best practice.
The success of the course owes a lot to the hospitality of the Bahrain Ministry of Trade and Commerce (Eng. Al-Moamen) and the supervision of Mr A. Benyaich, senior conformity assessment specialist at GSO. The course was supported by Miriam Allam from OECD (pictured) and your blogger CH Montin (France).

Report on RIA in Russian Federation

Regular contributor Daniel Tsygankov informs us of a milestone report issued on 20 January by the National Institute for systems studies of entrepreneurship (Moscow), entitled "Some results of RIA at the federal level in the 2nd half of 2013."
Daniel has also provided for upload on this blog a translation into English of the report along with a detailed presentation in 30 slides. These documents show, with lots of statistics concerning the scope and quality of RIAs conducted recently, how the assessment of new regulation has grealy improved recently in Russia (see slides 27-29 for key findings and proposals for further improvement, including ideas such as the development of a regulatory policy concept).

17 January 2014

Impact assessment calculator

All RIA practicioners know that one of the most difficult steps in the exercise is the valuation of impacts, where statistics are not always available. That is why any help is welcome. One way of facilitating the production of figures is to support the calculations and the presentation of results, and such is the purpose of a new tool recently uploaded by the Department of Innovation and Business, the Impact Assessment Calculator, which is intended to "help policy officials to calculate the figures needed for their impact assessment. The calculator automatically generates the key figures needed for the impact assessment summary pages, using the profile of costs and benefits for each option." The Excell spreadsheet comes with instructions and a sheet for calculating each option; the figures are collected in an overview that can be copied into the RIA summary pages. The calculator also takes care of discounting and other financial operations. Though the currency quoted is the pound sterling, it seems the software could be used in any country, perhaps with a few adaptations.

09 January 2014

Greek EU presidency vows to pursue smart regulation

Greece has taken over on 1 January the rotating presidency of the EU for six months. Its programme of action for this term covers all aspects of EU policies, and includes a short paragraph, page 37, concerning the immediate future of Smart Regulation, in the section devoted to competitiveness.
"The creation of the right regulatory framework and the reduction of administrative burden is particularly important in times of economic challenges. The overall regulatory burden, in particular for SMEs, should be reduced at both European and national levels. In this context the Presidency will seek to ensure that the implementation of Smart Regulation initiatives creates a favorable environment for the enterprises, in particular SMEs, by enhancing competitiveness and reducing compliance costs. Based on the experience gained when implementing the initial burden reduction program of 25% arising from European legislation, a new round of burden reduction will be pursued for all stakeholders both at European and national levels. " We welcome any indication from experts as to this "new round of burden reductions".

Simplification shock shifts to higher gear (France)

President Hollande is apparently ushering in a new economic policy, more business-friendly, if several New-Year announcements are to be believed. From Toulouse on 9 January (today) he is setting up a new "Council for simplification" headed by MP Mandon (see previous posts). New "tough decisions " will need to be taken this year to bolster the "simplification shock" launched last year. The "shock" is meant to strengthen the competitiveness of enterprises, and promote jobs by ensuring that the 201 simplification measures already announced are truly implemented, and to find other red tape cutting initiatives. The President is said to be impatient with the pace of truly perceived reduction to the regulatory burdens on companies, and clearly thinks the administration is too slow in coming up with solutions. For more, see article in the economic daily (Les Echos).
Meanwhile, Le Monde, an evening paper, analyses in its 8 January leader recent indications of government excessive haste in preparing legislation, leading to a spate of repeals of new acts (or parts of new acts) by the Constitutional Court. Under the title "too may poorly devised laws kill the law" (full content only for subscribers), it denounces excessive reliance on new primary legislation even when not legally indispensable, and poor quality of drafting excessively complex clauses, which are at the root of "legislative inflation". The number of pages in the Official Journal seems to double every ten years. Le Monde is not confident that the French administration will be able to improve its approach to policy making.