NNR Newsletter March 2012
The Board of Swedish Industry and Commerce for Better Regulation (NNR)
Smart Approach to the Single Market
In a letter to the editor in European Voice on 9 February 2012, NNR pointed out key measures that are necessary for European leaders to take in order to complete the single market. One such measure is addressing the differing ways that EU directives are transposed and implemented in member states. So-called gold-plating is one example of an implementation practice that can lead to unnecessary regulatory costs for business. The aim of a project that NNR is running jointly with the Swedish Better Regulation Council during spring 2012 is to propose a definition of gold-plating and encourage more transparency in the transposition and implementation process in Sweden. There is no doubt that the current crisis has brought ‘smart regulation’ to the top of the EU’s political agenda; it must stay there also when the good times return.
The full text of the letter is available here.
Implementation of EU Legislation – Best Practice
A new report by the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens highlights best practice cases of implementation of EU legislation in member states. The report states that almost a third of the administrative burdens deriving from EU legislation stem from inefficient national implementation. There is thus great potential to reduce regulatory burdens on business if Member States were to transpose and implement EU legislation in the most efficient way. The High Level Group has collected concrete examples of best practice in implementing EU legislation. Based on these examples it has put together a list of recommendations for best practice. One recommendation is that if there is a decision to go beyond copying the substance of EU legislation i.e.to gold-plate, this should be explicitly communicated and stakeholders should be invited to comment on this before a decision is made.
The full report is available here.
NNR Survey Shows Slight Positive Change in Perceptions of Regulatory Burdens
In November 2011, NNR presented the results of its third annual survey of business perceptions of complying with regulation – The Regulation Barometer. The Swedish Government’s overarching aim for its better regulation programme is to deliver a noticeable positive change in the day-to-day running of a business. This type of aim gives even greater importance to the results of NNR’s survey. It shows that an absolute majority of respondents said that it is important for the Government to simplify the regulatory environment for business. A majority also said that the regulatory burden has stayed the same over the last year. However, for the first time, those who said they had noticed a positive difference and a decrease in regulatory burdens outnumbered those who said they had noticed a negative change, 21 per cent versus 9 per cent. The top three most burdensome and costly areas are tax and VAT, health and safety and labour market regulations.
Devising Smart Regulation for SMEs
The BusinessEurope Working Group for Better Regulation, which NNR chairs, has developed a position letter on the EU Commission’s November 2011 report on how to minimize the regulatory burdens for SMEs. The letter was sent from BusinessEurope Director-General, Philippe de Buck, to Commission President, José Manuel Barroso. BusinessEurope welcomes the Commission’s initiative to further emphasise the need to “Think Small First” and to strengthen the focus on SMEs by promoting a standard impact assessment methodology by which exemptions might be considered but will not be automatic as there are obligations that should be fulfilled by all companies.
What comes after the EU Commission’s Programme for Reducing Administrative Burdens?
The end of the EU Commission’s ‘Action Programme for Reducing Administrative Burdens’ opens the question about what will come next. The BusinessEurope Working Group for Better Regulation has set up a taskforce that will set out a list of business priorities for the next smart regulation programme. The paper will be sent to the Commission in early spring. The four European better regulation watch-dogs – Dutch Actal, German Nationaler Normenkontrollrat, Swedish Regelrådet and British Regulatory Policy Committee – sent a joint position paper to the Commission in December 2011 setting out their recommendations on how to take forward the smart regulation agenda when the Action Programme ends in 2012.
The position paper is available here.
Pressure on EU Commission and the European Council to Prioritise Smart Regulation
A group of “like-minded” EU member states are putting pressure on the EU Commission and the European Council to prioritise growth and competitiveness. A letter dated 18 March 2011 signed by 12 Prime Ministers and addressed to Presidents Barroso and van Rompuy listed four priority areas: achieving the full potential of the Single Market, connecting European and global markets, support for business including reducing the overall burden of regulation and innovation. Another letter, signed this time also by Spain and Italy, was sent ahead of the summit on 1-2 March 2012. This letter further emphasises the priorities set out in the first and adds to them. NNR is pleased that it includes the need to sustain and make more ambitious work to reduce the burden on business of EU regulation and achieve tangible benefits for companies. Also important is the pressure put on the Secretariat General of the Council to follow the European Parliament’s initiative and create an impact assessment unit to carry out impact assessment of any substantive amendments to legislative proposals. An open letter to this effect was sent to the Council Secretary General in December 2011 signed by 12 member states.
Competitiveness Council Conclusions on Smart Regulation
The Competitiveness Council on 20 and 21 February 2012 adopted conclusions “on a future smart regulation agenda with a strong end-user focus”. NNR particularly welcomes the support expressed for the EU Commission’s intention to emphasise impacts of new proposals on the end-users during the entire policy-making process and to improve how end-users are involved in this process. NNR also welcomes the agreement by the Council that a focus on end-users must be part of an improvement of the smart regulation agenda.
The conclusions are available here.
Contact the Board of Swedish Industry and Commerce for Better Regulation (NNR)
Karin Atthoff, Senior Advisor and Editor of the NNR Newsletter
Tel: +46-8-762 7094
Jens Hedström, NNR President
Tel: +46-8-762 7093