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Better Regulation at the heart of policymaking

29 Apr 2021
Institutional Affairs

Today, the European Commission released its highly-anticipated Communication on Better Regulation. It marks a positive step forward for high-quality and transparent decision making in the EU building on earlier commitments to develop a strong Better Regulation approach ‘at the heart’ of policymaking. Through the inclusion of a wide range of stakeholders and the adoption of a science-based approach, rules and standards can encourage innovation and the emergence of new goods and services. However, unnecessary administrative burden and regulation also affect growth and can make it more difficult for companies to expand.

Flags of the EU for Better Regulation

The American Chamber of Commerce to the EU (AmCham EU) remains committed to advancing the critical areas highlighted in the Communication. The Strategic Foresight approach is a welcome addition to the Better Regulation toolbox and we look forward to the implementation of ‘One in, One out’ in the second half of the 2021 Commission work programme and learning more as to how it will reduce the administrative burden of implementing new laws. Overall, the Better Regulation agenda would benefit from a renewed emphasis on:

  • Application of Better Regulation principles across EU-agencies: to encourage transparent interaction with relevant stakeholders, particularly where agencies feed into legislative development or agenda setting initiatives;
  • Implementing acts and guidance: where relevant legislation is delayed, implementation dates should be sufficiently deferred to account for any delay and to avoid the need for rapid application learning from widespread issues recently with the Single Use Plastic Directive. Guidance accompanying legislation must be furnished within an appropriate timeframe;
  • Objective impact assessments: with no leading language or preference in terms of policy objectives and preferably drafted independently of the policy unit who will draft associated legislation;
  • Timely consultations: avoid opening of consultations which directly conflict with holiday periods, or the simultaneous release of consultations which impact one sector thus effecting ability of stakeholders to coordinate and respond. The introduction of a single ‘Call for Evidence’ should address this issue, standardising expected contributions within a clearly defined timeline;
  • Quality of consultation: ambiguous questions, or questions which feed into statistical analysis (Likert scales), should be balanced, particularly where these lead to percentage-based claims for support which do not adequately reflect the relative weight of respondents (eg. association vs an individual / large economic sector vs a small);

While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an obvious challenge, it also continues to demonstrate that better governance and regulation is needed more than ever in and beyond times of crisis.