Most people agree that rules are necessary. If designed correctly, they provide businesses with a clear framework and create conditions for sound and fair competition. Nevertheless, incorrect, overreaching or ambiguous rules and regulations may cause major problems for companies. Red tape may result in high costs, time-wasting and uncertainty that may prevent ideas and businesses from reaching their full potential – or even starting out.
For 40 years, the Board of Swedish Industry and Commerce for Better Regulation (NNR) has promoted more effective and less costly rules for companies. The organisation was set up in 1982, when it was known as the Companies’ Respondent Delegation (Företagens Uppgiftslämnardelegation (FUD)). The FUD was formed by several trade organisations as a consultation body for the business community, in relation to government agencies, regarding the disclosure requirements placed on companies.
This assignment has expanded over the years. Today, NNR represents the business community on issues related to better regulation. It acts as the business community’s hub for analysing the impact of rules on companies and as a coordinator of better regulation policy both in Sweden and at EU level.
Over the years, NNR and the world in which we act have evolved. Although digitalisation simplifies applications and disclosures, it also lowers the threshold for the kind of data that is requested, and when it is requested. Globalisation and the EU’s internal market have opened up new opportunities for Swedish companies, but they also increase competition and show how important it is that similar conditions for businesses exist in different countries. A European decision-making level has been added, bringing with it both simplifications and increased regulation.
NNR has learned that it must carry out its work on several frontiers simultaneously.
- NNR must participate in decisions regarding new regulations. When existing regulations are altered, the chosen solution should not only meet the aim of the regulations but also be the solution that is less costly for companies.
- NNR must follow up on each individual step – from the impact assessments of new rules and regulations to carrying out an evaluation and follow-up once they have been implemented.
NNR has promoted cost-effective rules and regulations on behalf of its members and competitive terms for Swedish companies for 40 years – and this is work that never ends. New regulations are constantly added and others are reviewed, but there will always be a need for companies to be represented during the regulatory process.
- In 1982, FUD was formed as a consultation body for the business community in relation to government agencies, regarding the disclosure requirements placed on companies.
- In 1995, government agencies were instructed to make impact assessments with cost estimates for new or amended regulations. FUD was entrusted with coordinating the business community’s reviews of these impact assessments.
- In 1998, the regulatory work of government agencies became subject to more stringent requirements. The Ordinance concerning Special Impact Assessments of the Effects of Regulations on Conditions for Small Enterprises came into force.
- In 2001, FUD’s field of activity expanded to also cover international issues related to better regulation, with a specific emphasis on the regulatory process as such.
- In 2003, FUD changed its name to the Board of Swedish Industry and Commerce for Better Regulation (NNR).
- In 2006, NNR got a seat on BusinessEurope’s Better Regulation Working Group as well as the BIAC Governance and Regulatory Policy Committee in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
- In 2007, a new Regulatory Impact Assessment Ordinance was adopted, and the Swedish Better Regulation Council was formed. This is a government body that reviews the regulators’ impact assessments.
- In 2008, NNR’s secretariat grew to employ the same number of people as it does today.
- In 2010, NNR performed its first review of the application of regulations by municipalities.
- In 2012, NNR celebrated its 30th anniversary. A publication to mark this achievement was issued – Tolv tankar om byråkrati och regelförankring (available in Swedish only).
- In 2015, the OECD carried out its first ranking of the member states’ regulatory reform work – the Regulatory Policy Outlook – after lobbying by NNR and others. The European Commission formed the REFIT Platform to improve existing EU legislation.
- In 2016, the European Commission established the Regulatory Scrutiny Board, which reviews impact assessments at EU level.
- In 2017, NNR hosted a visit to Sweden by Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission. The Swedish Agency for Public Management was given the responsibility for reviewing Sweden’s handling of impact assessment work related to the transposition and implementation of EU legislation.
- In 2019, NNR presented a review of the effects of over-implementation (gold-plating) of EU legislation on the Swedish community. A majority in the Riksdag (the Swedish parliament) declared that the minimum level in the EU legislation should be the starting point in the transposition into national law.
The Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation joined NNR and some of NNR’s members on a simplification trip through Sweden. The trip aimed to highlight the Business Community’s need for better regulation.
- In 2020, NNR presented its first review of the application of regulations by the county administrative boards.
The European Commission’s advisory body on better regulation issues, the Fit for Future Platform, was set up.
- In 2021, the Simplification Inquiry (Swedish Government Official Report SOU 2021:60) submitted its report, which included proposals for an entirely new and reinforced better regulation process for the Riksdag, the government and public authorities.
NNR’s regulation podcast was set up.
- In 2022, NNR celebrates its 40th anniversary.