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26th Aug 2019

New EU laws to pass 'regulation test'

  • The commission has promised to reduce the amount of regulation on businesses (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

New EU laws will have to get the green light from an independent scrutiny panel to make sure they do not impose unnecessary burdens on businesses before they can be tabled, according to a leaked document from the European Commission.

A six-person Regulatory Scrutiny Board will be tasked with scrutinising impact assessments for new bills and evaluating the costs of existing laws. All impact assessments will require a positive opinion from the Board before the draft law is considered by the 28 commissioners.

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Three of the Board members will be hired from outside the EU institution.

The paper, obtained by EUobserver, is part of the so-called ‘Better Regulation’ initiative, which is set to be launched in mid-May. The blueprint is the brainchild of Dutch commissioner Frans Timmermans, the first vice-president of Jean-Claude Juncker’s EU executive, who has been tasked with reducing red tape for businesses.

With governments and businesses critical about the volume of new laws being adopted by the EU institutions, the Juncker commission’s work programme for 2015 spanned just five pages and included just 23 new initiatives, far fewer than usual.

Timmermans’ paper plans to expand consultations will cover the entire lifecycle of a policy.

Three month public consultations will be held when preparing new proposals and assessing their impact on businesses, and when existing laws are evaluated by the EU executive. After being published, a further two months of consultation will allow feedback to be sent to the European Parliament and Council, representing member states.

Meanwhile, the commission will also hold public consultations for technical implementing measures - known as delegated acts.

Under the commission proposal, the draft texts of delegated acts will be published on the commission's website for a month before being voted on by governments.

Originally intended to be reserved solely for technical measures to implement laws, EU lawmakers increasingly use delegated acts to deal with highly political issues, often in a bid to speed up the legislative process. The volume of delegated acts has led some to question whether legislators have the capacity to cope with the flood of acts that flow from the Commission.

The paper also calls on governments to refrain from ‘gold-plating’ EU laws when implementing them at national level, accusing MEPs and ministers of being “hesitant to agree to measures which would reduce administrative burdens”.

It also promises that fresh legislative proposals will be accompanied by “a more thorough explanation of how the initiative meets the twin tests of subsidiarity”.

“Numerous pledges to cut EU red tape have come from Brussels over the past years – but then not much happened,” Vincenzo Scarpetta, political analyst for the Open Europe think tank, told EUobserver.

“Only time will tell if the new commission is serious about substantively reducing the regulatory burden on businesses across Europe as opposed to just tinkering around the edge,” he added.

For his part, Finance Watch spokesman, Joost Mulder, told this website, “more transparency on delegated acts is welcome but in practice likely to give the financial industry an even bigger say on the supposedly technical implementation of political agreements.”

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