4th Oct 2022

Barroso backs major anti-red tape scheme

  • Sending electronic invoices for VAT would save up €18 billion a year (Photo: Flickr.com)

EU businesses could save up to €40 billion a year in administrative costs out of their total annual burden of €360 billion, if the EU adopted proposals tabled by a European Commission advisory group.

"If we can relieve businesses to the tune of €40 billion, it's a sort of recovery programme," former Bavarian premier Edmund Stoiber, the head of the high-level group which issued the report on cutting administrative costs, said at a press conference on Friday (18 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Set up in 2006, the group aims to reduce red tape arising from EU legislation by 25 percent by 2012.

Mr Stoiber noted that the total cost of administrative burdens in the European Union is €360 billion a year, out of which around half is related to national regulations and the other half to EU legislation and its transposition into national law.

Among the envisaged measures, replacing paperwork with online VAT invoices would save European companies up to €18 billion. Simpler accounting rules for small companies, of up to 10 employees, would reduce the administrative costs by €7 billion.

Already put forward by the EU commission, the proposals need the endorsement of the European Parliament and member states, with both Mr Stoiber and EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso urging the two bodies to adopt them as quickly as possible.

Mr Barroso said he would make the reduction of administrative burdens a "high political priority" of his next commission, to be sworn in by the end of the year.

"Indeed, I will make smart regulation a leitmotiv," he said, adding that the better regulation services will be put under his direct authority.

Mr Stoiber's anti-red tape mandate would be expanded by another two years. The centre-right politician said the role of his high level group could be expanded following a "bureaucracy check" of the EU, to be delivered by himself and Mr Barroso in January or February.

As to claims that the measures add up deregulation, industry commissioner Gunther Verheugen, himself a Social-Democrat, said such criticism is unfounded.

"We don't change the substance of the legislation or the protection measures, we've just made it cheaper. You often see in member states rules which are only written in the interest of bureaucracy," Mr Verheugen said.

In a rare moment of candour, the outgoing commissioner also spoke about the influence of interest groups over his own institution.

"Very often you see which law is defending a certain privilege of an interest group - you can trace it in the European Parliament, in the Council [of the European Union] and even here, at the commission," he said.

The EU commission and Mr Verheugen himself have often been criticised by pro-transparency groups on having a favourable stance toward big business lobbies.


EU officials were warned of risk over issuing financial warning

The European watchdog for systemic economic risk last week warned of "severe" threats to financial stability — but internal notes show top-level officials expressed "strong concerns" over the "timing" of such a warning, fearing publication could further destabilise financial markets.

News in Brief

  1. Czechs warn joint-nationality citizens in Russia on mobilisation
  2. Greece to unveil proposal for capping EU gas prices
  3. Four dead, 29 missing, after dinghy found off Canary Islands
  4. Orbán: German €200bn shield is start of 'cannibalism in EU'
  5. Lithuania expels top Russian diplomat
  6. Poland insists on German WW2 reparations
  7. Russia halts gas supplies to Italy
  8. Bulgaria risks hung parliament after inconclusive vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy
  2. EU wants probe into alleged Nagorno-Karabakh war crimes
  3. EU officials were warned of risk over issuing financial warning
  4. EU debates national energy plans amid calls for more coordination
  5. What Modi and Putin’s ‘unbreakable friendship’ means for the EU
  6. EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges
  7. Cities and regions stand with citizens and SMEs ahead of difficult winter
  8. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us