Better Regulation

 

Background

In May 2015 the Commission introduced the Better Regulation Package with the objective to design better policies at the minimum costs, make the decision making process more transparent and inclusive towards stakeholders, and cut unnecessary red tape. Under the Better Regulation agenda, the Juncker Commission aims to be far more restrictive on new legislative initiatives taken within the annual Commission Work Programme. It has done a one-off trawl of all legislation to find measures that should be repealed. Additionally, to increase the transparency and inclusiveness of the process the Better Regulation agenda puts pressure on Parliament and Council to subject their legislative amendments to impact assessments. This could also lead to close scrutiny of legislative negotiations carried over from the previous mandate to see which proposals might be withdrawn as they are no longer perceived as useful or dragging on too long in negotiations.

President Juncker’s goal of reducing excessive or unnecessary regulation has focussed attention on the Commission’s “Better Regulation” processes, now overseen by Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans. A major concern for civil society actors including Finance Watch is that legitimate efforts to rationalise and simplify rules should not turn into a business-led agenda for deregulation.

Finance Watch has been closely monitoring developments. In July 2015, we published an introduction to Better Regulation and a blog article about impact assessments within the Better Regulation package, “Beware of impact assessment”.

Better Regulation Watchdog Network

As well as in finance, many files in environmental, social and health legislation could potentially be put under pressure from the Better Regulation initiative. In November 2014 we therefore started sharing information with Member organisations potentially affected by this agenda, and coordinating our advocacy work.

Finance Watch is a member of the Steering Group that launched the Better Regulation Watchdog network, a group of civil society organisations concerned about the Better Regulation agenda. The network was formally presented in May 2015 with more than 50 civil society organisations from different sectors. The network will examine actions taken under the Better Regulation initiative and flag possible risks to social, labour, environmental, consumer, financial regulation and public health standards.

Impact Assessments

In 2014, Finance Watch responded to a public consultation on the way the Commission conducts impact assessments before proposing legislation. We said we would like to see greater attention to the societal dimension in impact assessments, taking in factors that are hard to measure in economic terms but nevertheless important, such as financial stability, integration, health or consumer rights.

The costs of regulation are often quite easy to calculate, since they are simply to quantify, immediate and fall on a small defined number of players, who will gladly demonstrate how much their profit has gone down compared to the pre-legislative situation. The benefits of regulation, on the other hand, are often difficult to quantify, in the long run, and fall on a large group of actors (often all citizens or all taxpayers). When industry lobbyists propose to look at implementation and compliance costs only, they are effectively calling on policymakers to ignore the benefits of financial regulation to society.

Finance Watch publications

The Better Regulation restaurant by SOLIDAR (blog article, 8 September 2015)

Better Regulation – an introduction (blog article, 23 July 2015)

Beware of the impact assessment (blog article, 23 July 2015)

Civil society groups form ‘better regulation’ Watchdog to protect citizen, worker and consumer rights (18 May 2015)