European Voice: Quick, cheap and simple solutions to economic crisis

It is now a year since the financial crisis first truly shook the global economy. In that year, governments have invested in industries and targeted support for banks. What they have in common is that these solutions cost taxpayers vast sums.

But dealing with a crisis does not have to be expensive. One solution that would be relatively quick, cheap and, therefore, attractive would be to substantially simplify business regulation. That would boost growth and increase employment.

They would also require little investment, since most of the tools needed for such a process are already in place and, indeed, programmes initiated by the European Commission and many member states to cut the administrative costs of complying with regulation have not added to costs for taxpayers.

Set against the non-existent or minimal costs are the benefits. The Commission believes that its programme to simplify and codify EU legislation will reduce the EU acquis by almost one-tenth. That is a good start. But there is room for more measures.

The Board of Swedish Industry and Commerce for Better Regulation (NNR) believes that Swedish businesses spend around €10 billion a year merely on the administrative costs of regulation. The European Commission, which has measured the costs within 13 priority areas, believes that in these areas costs amounts to €115bn-€130bn but could be cut with 25 percent. This money could be put to better use in companies’ core business.

The European business community has drawn up its own simplification proposals and submited these to the Commission. The Commission, business and some member states are therefore pushing in the same direction, towards simplification. What is needed is greater urgency. The cost of complying with regulation continues to increase and the economic crisis persists. A less costly, more effective and cleverer solution to the current crisis will be hard to find.

Signhild Arnegård Hansen
President, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise

Jens Hedström
President, Board of Swedish Industry and Commerce for Better Regulation
Chairman, BUSINESSEUROPE Working Group for Better Regulation

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