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Better Regulation Communication 2021

The Commission has published a new Better Regulation Communication, Better Regulation: Joining forces to make better laws, in April 2021. In this Communication, the Commission proposes several improvements to the EU law-making process. The proposed improvements range from better communication with stakeholders to the introduction of new burden reduction instruments.


More transparency and joint efforts by all EU institutions

The Commission stresses the need for cooperation among EU co-legislators, Member States and stakeholders. Therefore, the Commission, Parliament and Council should all document the expected impact, costs, and consequences of their legislative proposals and amendments. This should lead to a more transparent political dialogue, in which all parties are aware of the expected impact of a legislative proposal. Additionally, the Commission wants Member States to provide feedback on the advantages and disadvantages of EU legislation, which the Commission can use in its evaluations of legislation.

Furthermore, scientific evidence should be a cornerstone of better regulation. Therefore, the Commission wants to create one portal to collect evidence-based policy choices: the Joint Legislative Portal. This portal should give all stakeholders and interested parties access to all studies, evaluations and datasets that have led to a particular policy choice.


Better Communication with stakeholders

The Commission’s consultation system must become focused, clear and user-friendly. There are many opportunities for feedback, which could be burdensome for stakeholders. Therefore, the Commission will combine two steps in the consultation process: the feedback opportunity after the publication of a roadmap and the public consultation. The roadmap preceding a legislative proposal or evaluation will be published on the Have Your Say-portal as a ‘call for evidence’. At the same time, a public consultation will be initiated to facilitate a questionnaire. Furthermore, there will be fewer public consultations, and they will be more specific to the target audience. The general public, for example, will not receive questions on technical issues. This should make public consultations more user-friendly.

The Commission will also step up its efforts to boost awareness around the Have Your Sayportal and the ‘calls for evidence’ to attract more participants and quality contributions. In addition, the Commission will communicate better what occurs with stakeholder input by issuing a summary report after each consultation. These reports include the insights the Commission has gained from the provided feedback.


New burden reduction instruments

The Commission wants to reduce the burdens caused by EU legislation by introducing a ‘one in, one out’ approach. The Commission will seek to compensate the burdens placed on people and businesses in some legislative proposals by removing similar burdens in the same policy area. As a result, European legislation will be more efficient and easier to comply with. In addition, impact assessments should present the expected burdens of complying with EU legislation more transparently and systematically. The Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB) will monitor and scrutinise this. The Annual Burden Survey will evaluate the implementation of the ‘one in, one out’ approach. This survey reflects the Commission’s efforts in the field of burden reduction.

Until 2019, the REFIT Platform supported the Commission’s efforts to improve EU legislation. However, its potential was not always fully exploited. Therefore, the Commission launched the Fit for Future Platform in May 2020. The Fit for Future Platform brings together expertise from different layers of society and will provide the Commission with advice on simplifying and modernising EU legislation. In 2021, the Platform will focus on providing advice on competition, finance and health.


Improving the Better Regulation Toolkit

Strategic and science-based foresight will play a role in the future-proofing of EU legislation. The Commission wants to do this by ensuring that a legislative proposal is based on a long-term perspective that can contribute to achieving the European goals on, for example, digitisation and climate. Annually, the Commission will publish a Strategic Foresight Report containing strategic forecasts and developments. The RSB will also take strategic foresight into account when scrutinising the Commission’s impact assessments, evaluations and fitness checks.

In addition, impact assessments need to become more comprehensive and transparent. The Commission wants to ensure that the motivation behind all relevant legislative proposals is published and that the impact of a legislative proposal is more thoroughly analysed and reported. This applies in particular to the impact on the green and digital transitions. Moreover, the Commission wants to make revisions of legislation more consistent by formulating a more evident distinction between implementation reports and evaluations. Also, evaluations should more often include evidence-based findings on how the particular legislation has performed. Including evidence-based findings will ensure that evaluations can better support future policy-making. Furthermore, the Commission intends to carry out fitness checks of EU legislation more often.

Finally, the Commission will strengthen the role of the RSB. The RSB will continue to scrutinise the Commission’s impact assessments and evaluations. However, it will engage more with similar bodies in the Member States in the future to ensure a common approach to better regulation. The RSB will also play a role in monitoring the ‘one in, one out’ approach and the strategic foresight of EU legislation.