Status of reducing administrative burdens in the EU [9 Questions and Answers]

March 14, 2012  |  Digitalisation, Europe, Publications

We received a memo on the status of reducing administrative burdens in the European Union. Reducing administrative burdens are part of the Commission’s smart regulation agenda. And we all know that e-invoicing, invoice automation, SEPA and several other digitisation services are part of of that EU agenda.

Underneath are some questions and answers on the status, an overview of achievements and examples in administrative burden reduction. Including a checklist for reducing administrative burdens.

Check out the full communication here.


What is Smart regulation?

Smart regulation should ensure that European laws benefit people and businesses. It is essential if the EU is to deliver the ambitious objectives for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth set out by the Europe 2020 Strategy. The Commission therefore evaluates the impact of legislation during the whole policy cycle: when a policy is designed, when it is in place, and when it is revised. As smart regulation is a shared responsibility of all those involved in EU policy-making, the Commission works with the European Parliament, Council and Member States to encourage them to apply smart regulation in their work. Below the Commission presents


Why does the Commission aim at reducing regulatory burdens?

The EU’s growth strategy Europe 2020 highlights the importance of improving the business environment, including through smart regulation and the reduction of regulatory burdens, in order to make European enterprises more competitive at the global scale.

The Commission has recently launched a further initiative for minimising regulatory burden specifically for SMEs and adapting EU regulation to the needs of micro-enterprises, since SMEs play a key role in economic growth accounting for 99% of enterprises and providing more than two thirds of private sector employment.

Unleashing their growth potential will be of particular benefit to the European economy, see IP/11/1386.


What is the state of play on the savings achieved through the Action Programme for Reducing Administrative Burdens in the EU?

In the context of the Action Programme, administrative burdens that have been targeted and measured have been estimated at EUR

The measurement of administrative burdens covered 72 EU legal acts in 13 domains which were assumed to impose 80 % of administrative burdens stemming from EU law.


What are examples of measures to reduce administrative burdens?

Examples of measures already adopted by the Council and the Parliament, based on a Commission proposal are:- promoting fully electronic VAT invoicing system saving EUR 18.4 billion: IP/10/1645.
- exempting micro-SME’s (<10FTE) from accounting obligations: saving EUR 6.3 billion
replaces 26 marketing standards with a General Marketing Standard:  EUR 970 million.
- digital tachographs: saving more than half a billion euro per year.
- increased use of self-certification in a procurement procedure (only the winning enterprise will need to submit the detailed documents evidencing suitability as a tenderer, not all bidders.)


What is the role of the High Level Group (HLG) of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens, chaired by Dr. Edmund Stoiber?

The High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens, chaired by Dr. Edmund Stoiber was set up in late 2007 to advise the Commission with regard to the Action Programme for Reducing Administrative Burdens (for businesses) in the EU. Its main task has been to provide advice on administrative burden reduction measures suggested in the context of the Action Programme.

The most prominent feature of the extended mandate is the report on best practice in Member States to implement EU legislation in the least burdensome way (“Europe can do better”).


What constitutes a ‘best practice’?

In the HLG’s report ‘best practices’ refer to practices that consistently show results superior to those achieved with other means. The best practices featured in the report are intended to perform as benchmarks: They should be used as a point of reference for evaluating the performance or level of quality of the implementation of EU legislation.


Why is the report on best practice in Member States to implement EU legislation in the least burdensome way important for the Commission?

The High Level Group adopted the report during its meeting in Warsaw on 15 November 2011. The Commission had previously emphasised in its Communication on Smart Regulation of 8 October 2010 – COM(2010)543 – that smart regulation is a shared responsibility of all those involved in EU policy-making (the European Parliament, the Council, the Member States and other stakeholders).


Who provided the examples for the report and which areas and Member States are covered?

More than 300 examples from different sources were collected for an initial overview. National governments transmitted almost 130 examples, the Committee of the Regions provided another 95 examples, stakeholders such as business organisations from Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Spain contributed 20 additional examples. Research on existing sources including information held by Commission services produced further examples.


What is the checklist for good implementation of EU legislation?

On the basis of its work the HLG has produced a checklist for good implementation of EU legislation.

The checklist is addressed to (public) authorities responsible for the implementation of EU legislation, and the HLG recommends that they take some time to go through the checklist when working on implementation, in order to avoid burdensome elements to the widest possible extent.

The checklist covers issues such as the objective of the legislation, the exchange of best practice implementation, the use of impact assessments and evaluations, the extent of leeway for implementation, the use of derogations or lighter regimes, active and passive gold-plating, risk-based approaches, the end-user focus, digital solutions and re-use of data.

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