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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03 June 2015

The way forward, viewed from the top (OECD Forum)

(Photo above: Pres. Hollande from France addresses Forum). 
The second day of the 2015 OECD Forum (3 June) had been organised back-to-back with the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, which saves travel costs and allows delegates to engage high ranking decision makers. As on the first day, the event also offered rich opportunities to explore current trends and network in a variety of attractive formats (i. a. "meet-the-author", "idea factories", "talk together,"  project presentations). Regarding the plenary sessions, the morning slots were devoted to the presentation and discussion of resources compiled and calculated by OECD, chiefly the 2015 economic outlook. These new elements fed into a discussion on structural reforms, which tried to identify the main factors for stimulating investment while pursuing  sustainable and inclusive growth objectives. The second morning session addressed investment in human capital: its conclusions were consensual but predictable (education...) in spite of the efforts of the moderator.
The highlight of the day was naturally the session on Unlocking Growth, with President Hollande (France) and PM Rutte (the Netherlands) taking centre stage, with questions from ministers in a discussion moderated by SG Gurria himself. Both orators were brilliant in combining the competing requirements of sustainability, environment preservation and social inclusiveness in investment policies. Solutions needed to be defined in common (at the European level for countries of that region), and other international fora such as the coming Paris conference on climate change (COP21).

02 June 2015

New challenges for better regulation (OECD Forum)

Your blogger attended the first day of the 2015 OECD Forum, where "leaders and influencers ...  gather to debate the most pressing social and economic challenges confronting society." This year's instalment was not directly connected to regulation, but this was not a reason to stay away: we smart regulators do not work in a vacuum, we try to apply or skills to assist governments and regulators in achieving all regulatory outcomes, so it is necessary now and again to take a look at the bigger picture. And the general theme "Investing for the future: people, planet, prosperity" promised to cover all the major challenges confronting policy makers. Please refer to the OECD Forum website for excellent introductory statements and access to resources, my comments are limited to what may interests regulators.
1. The session on "Unlocking investment" naturally examined the role of regulation for fostering the right investment climate . But 80% of participants (polled instantly) thought a return to pre-crisis levels would not come from regulation. Though compliance costs were mentioned as a hindrance to investment, it seemed to me that better regulation policies and tools were not sufficiently well-known. The panel and audience seemed to put more faith in bringing about  a public-private dialogue ensuring a co-ordinated approach between the private and public sectors to develop a new investment culture, where social goals would be on a par with profit. Innovative business models, and Social impact investment approaches were a prime example of that trend. See also blog by Eric Solheim, chairman of the OECD Development Assistance Committee.
2. The Trade & Investment for development session examined how countries could unlock the full growth-inducing potential of trade, which has not retrieved its pre-crisis levels. Speakers agreed that FTA were no longer focused on tariffs, but increasingly addressed NTBs, mainly of regulatory origin. Prime examples of the trend were the  TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and TTP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). Much attention was given to the fragmentation of markets resulting from NTBs, with the ensuing increase in compliance costs (such as mutiple national certification procedures for the same product) and loss of trading possibilities, with corresponding reduced growth estimated at 2% of GDP. Removal of these obstacles could greatly benefit SMEs, as was shown from NZ and CZ examples, who could participate much more in Global Value Chains. More than ever, regulatory coherence was necessary. A new challenge for governments, especially in developing countries, was also to preserve the quality of investment, i.e. that it contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth, and not seek immediate profit.
3. The session on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) only rarely touched on regulatory issues but provided a prime example of an integrated policy inspired by international consensus and facing all the challenges of implementation that better regulators are familiar with. The discussion therefore covered very familiar territory: the main challenge, said one of the speakers, was political will  (the audience voted - by 38% - the lack of measurability as the top obstacle), lack of accountability and transparency of governments in pursuing non-binding commitments, need for more evidence-based decisions with data-collection strategies. It was quite surprising, even touching, to note the extent to which the private sector (including multinationals) vowed to support these mainly social goals, apparently to build a good reputation.

01 June 2015

New batch of simplification measures (France)

In France, regulatory policy nearly equates with administrative simplification, which itself heavily relies on e-government. Pursuing its 30-year tradition of announcing large batches of S-decisions, the Government announces today 1 June a new set of 92 red-tape reduction measures. All media report the launch (see for instance France Bleue) though little is yet on the official websites.
A summary of the policy is given in an undated article on France.fr. For a more official business oriented introdution and archive, see entreprises.gouv.fr
It is a new instalment of the 2013 "simplification drive" but more general public oriented than previously. Out of the total of 92 new measures , 40 are designed to make life easier for citizens, for instance:
• Written decisions by public bodies will be more stringently required to be drafted in language 'easy to read and understand';
• From September if you need to sign on as a jobseeker at the Pôle Emploi you will be able to do so directly online rather than filling in forms at one of the centres;
• From the end of June people will be able to check driving test results online rather than waiting for a letter, and download a provisional licence on to their phones. Contesting a speed camera fine will also be possible online;
• By the end of the year a new dedicated site will be in place to get information on court cases and on obtaining legal aid. 
• Applications for (means-tested) grants (bourses) to help with children's schooling will be possible online;
• Several measures are targetted at the disabled public with easier access to benefits and less frequent renewals of permits.

Eurasian RIA guidelines now online

The Eurasian Economic Community now has a RIA page with resources in English for guidance or comparative purposes.
Up to now, this blog was the only place where this information had been published, thanks to our friend D. Tsygankov (see post dated 10 March 2015 for a summary).

What's new in EC Better Regulation?

Top BR expert Tom Ferris (Ireland) has just published a perceptive analysis of the recent evolution of smart regulation at the EU level on the occasion of the new package announced on 19 May (reported in our 20 May post). Thank you Tom !