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 A number of pending legislative proposals from previous Commissions will be withdrawn.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