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The European Commission is urging Council and the European Parliament to increase their pace of work on the adoption of proposals to simplify EU law, in a new report on its 2005-2009 rolling simplification programme'.

The report, presented on 30 January, notes that less than a quarter of simplification proposals tabled by the Commission, and requiring endorsement from the Council and/or the EP, have been adopted. The backlog amounts to around 45 proposals, leading the EU executive to stress that "the regulatory framework cannot be improved by the Commission alone". It establishes a target that all these outstanding proposals should be adopted by spring 2009.

One point raised is that the Council has made no fundamental changes to the way it examines simplification proposals, despite commitments made in the 2003 inter-institutional agreement on better lawmaking. It contrasts this with the performance of the European Parliament, which has amended its internal procedures for examining codification and recasting proposals. The EU executive also makes a specific request for the EP and Council to jointly examine options for fast-track procedures to repeal obsolete legislation.

The Commission highlights the substantial delays that exist before any agreed simplifications actually come into force. An overall policy paper on better regulation, attached to the report, highlights the example of a simplification initiative presented by the Commission, amending Directive 70/156/EEC on type approval of motor vehicles. The Commission presented the proposal in July 2003 (as part of an older simplification programme). A lengthy adoption process meant, however, that it was only published in the official journal in October 2007, and will only enter into force in April 2009.

Despite this, the EU executive intends to continue to present proposals during 2008. A further 45 such measures are contained in the Commission's 2008 work programme, and another eight are scheduled for 2009.

The Commission's simplification programme is broad. In addition to revising legislation, the programme also includes the repeal of obsolete laws, as well as recasts and codifications to make legal texts easier to understand. The programme covers the entire EU acquis, including measures to reduce the administrative burden on businesses (see separate article).

The communication also sets out actions the Commission intends to take in 2008 regarding impact assessments. It intends to revise the current impact assessment guidelines during the spring in order to take account of the findings of a recent external evaluation. Planned changes to the rules include that resources for impact assessments will be focused on "the most important proposals and on these having the most far-reaching impacts", as well as on those which are "politically sensitive". The flip side to this is that impact assessment requirements for proposals with only "limited or general impacts" will be scaled down or even waived.

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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Feb 7, 2008

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