Task force calls for simplification of European law

The Better Regulation Task Force (BRTF) has launched a report on how to simplify EU law, focusing on the integrated pollution prevention and control Directive (IPPC), data protection and food labelling.

“Simpler European law could make life better for European citizens and businesses”, was the message from David Arculus, Chairman of the BRTF at the launch of the ‘Make it simple, Make it better’ report.

It recommends an urgent adoption of ad hoc mechanisms to progress simplification proposals; enough flexibility in new legislative proposals to allow future amendments if necessary; and the introduction of a common sense check to ensure that new legislation is consistent with existing laws, practical and will not impose unnecessary administrative burdens.

Regarding IPPC, the Task Force says it lacks clarity of definition and scope, and overlaps with such EU laws as the Incineration Directive.

“The EU has recognised the need to simplify its existing body of legislation and the Task Force has made serious, practical proposals to the Commission, Parliament and Member States as to how this can be achieved,” Mr Arculus said.

EU Commissioners, Gunter Verheugen (Enterprise and Industry), Peter Mandelson (Trade), and Neelie Kroes (Competition) have issued a joint statement of support for this work, saying:

“Better regulation is of vital importance to the future competitiveness of the EU. We are determined to make it a priority. We therefore particularly welcome the contribution of an independent body such as the BRTF, which is making constructive and thorough recommendations on how EU law can be simplified. We hope the working method in the report can be taken forward to help to make real progress on the programme of simplification of EU law. We look forward to further contributions from the Task Force to the better regulation debate in Europe.”

The report draws some general conclusions from the case studies of the three areas of legislation and makes a variety of recommendations on how the need for simplification could be avoided in the future.

Some of the disadvantages of over complex regulation identified in the report were that many people may concentrate on paperwork over meeting the spirit of the law, that conflicting regulation is hard top enforce, and that small businesses in particular may struggle to comply.

The Task Force’s views were echoed by the Alliance for a Competitive European Industry who called for consistent use of a clear, transparent Impact Assessment method right across the process of adopting legislation affecting industry.

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