Sunday

17th Dec 2017

Verheugen bares teeth in anti-red tape drive

EU industry commissioner Gunter Verheugen has raised the alarm on poor efforts to slash EU over-regulation, slamming the European Commission's own high officials while calling for a red tape reduction quota to be fixed to member states.

Mr Verheugen, together with commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, is spearheading Brussels' campaign to scrap redundant legislative proposals in the pipeline, while also simplifying existing EU lawbooks.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But the campaign, launched last autumn, has proven "not as successful as expected," the commissioner stated in a highly critical interview in Germany daily Die Welt on Monday (24 July).

"This is why I've just shown the yellow card, and commission president Barroso has subsequently drawn yellow-red," said the commissioner in a football metaphor casting the two commission chiefs as referees of uncooperative commission staff.

Mr Verheugen said that although the commission has withdrawn 67 unnecessary proposed laws from the EU's legislative machine, the reduction of existing regulation has met heavy resistance from the commission's own staff as well as the European Parliament and member states.

Brussels had for this year planned to simplify 54 laws – but only five have so far been tackled.

"We've made it very clear that the simplification project is not a toy of officials, but the flagship of the commission," said the German commissioner.

He explained that all commissioners backed the project but the layer of highest officials – so-called directors-general – are hindering the deregulation drive.

"My colleagues all know how important this project is. Things are blocked in the [staff] apparatus. When I raised the alarm bell, some were really astonished."

"Some [directors-general] have not really realized how important this plan is to us. There are also cases in which DGs [directorates general] have underestimated practical difficulties."

In an attempt to give more weight to his fight against bureaucracy, the commissioner suggested that member states during the German EU presidency starting in January commit themselves to a "quantifiable" reduction target of EU red tape.

"An administrative reduction of around 25 percent would release €75 billion into the European economy," he said.

But he added that member states are not always happy to support the commission when it proposes to chop regulation.

His own plan to scrap 80 EU laws regulating the size of the packaging of food products was resisted by the UK and Germany – normally de-regulation champions - as well as by MEPs who reacted to the plan by issuing a list of products where packaging sizes still need regulation.

Analysis

EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states

Brexit will dramatically change the balance between EU members states that have the euro and those that don't. The thinking on the future of the eurozone is done at EU-27 level - but opposing camps will have to be reconciled.

Facebook to shift ad revenue away from Ireland

Public pressure about low corporate taxes appear to have pressured Facebook to launch plans to stop routing international ad sales through its Dublin-based headquarters in Ireland.

Facebook to shift ad revenue away from Ireland

Public pressure about low corporate taxes appear to have pressured Facebook to launch plans to stop routing international ad sales through its Dublin-based headquarters in Ireland.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states