The commissioner has pledged to slash, by 2012, the administrative costs suffered by businesses after new figures reveal that progress has been sluggish so far.
Up to now, the initiative has had limited results:
- 68 out-of-date proposals pending before Council and Parliament have been withdrawn;
- less than half of the planned 100 initiatives to simplify legislation are expected to be adopted by the end of 2006. Furthermore, many of the simplification proposals already adopted by the Commission are still pending before the Council and the European Parliament;
- of the 500 codification actions planned by the Commission in view of bringing together the provisions of existing acts with all of their subsequent amendments into one law, only 85 plans have been drawn up with just 52 adopted, and;
- more than 160 integrated impact assessments, examining the potential social, environmental and economic impacts of Commission initiatives, prior to their adoption, have been completed since 2003.
Latest estimates reveal that the annual burden for business due to administrative costs of EU legislation will be double the original estimate of €320 billion.
The lack of progress on this agenda caused Commissioner Verheugen to lash out at his staff last month, accusing them of “obstructing his campaign to streamline or scrap legislation” (see EURACTIV 10 October 2006). In his strategic review of better regulation, presented on 14 November 2006, the commissioner reveals that he proposes to reinforce the better regulation initiative by:
- Reducing the administrative burden of existing regulation by 25% by 2012: The Commission estimates that administrative costs amount to around 3.5% of EU GDP and that a 25% cut of these costs for businesses could produce a 150 billion euro boost to the European economy. An ‘Action Plan on measuring Administrative Costs and reducing Administrative Burden’ will be presented early 2007.
- Improving the quality of impact assessments through the creation of an independent panel of experts (the Impact Assessment Board or IAB), which will be responsible for examining draft impact assessments. The establishment of the IAB follows criticism about the fact that, in most cases, impact assessments were being carried out by the same people that had drafted the new legislation.
- Adding another 43 initiatives to its programme for simplifying existing regulations.
- In 2007, withdrawing a further 10 proposals currently pending before the legislator.
- Finalising a programme to reduce the volume of the existing legislation through codification by 2008.