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 A number of pending legislative proposals from previous Commissions will be withdrawn.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?" .