The campaign to remove red tape and cut EU bureaucracy secured a major victory today when supporters won a series of votes in the European Parliament's committee for the Single Market.
British Conservative MEP Vicky Ford, who chairs the committee, had tabled a number of proposals to remove unnecessary costs imposed by EU law. She worked closely with Austrian Christian Democrat MEP Othmar Karas, the author of the report on better law-making which was before the committee.
The amendments passed included setting a 25% target for reducing the cost of bureaucracy and establishing a business forum to enable grassroots suggestions for reducing administrative burdens to be put forward. The forum would be similar to the Business Taskforce on cutting EU Red Tape which has operated in the UK, and a similar initiative in Denmark.
The Committee also backed Mrs Ford's suggestions for a competitiveness test, so that if a draft law adds additional costs then it should be reconsidered, and requiring the Commission to produce an annual statement of new costs to business from EU law which would help to shed light on the problem of red tape.
A further set of amendments suggest that all impact assessments and product standards should be made public at a draft stage before they are finalised so that the public and stakeholders can give comments. This would cover areas like setting standards for electrical goods.
Speaking after the votes, Vicky Ford said,
"The single market is meant to help businesses trade across 28 countries but too often EU laws create unnecessary costs for businesses and consumers. This must stop.
"The campaign to cut red tape in Europe is gaining momentum."
The amendments will now form part of an opinion sent from the committee to help shape the EU Commission's so called REFIT programme on better regulation and cutting red tape.
Notes to Press
Amendments tabled by Vicky Ford MEP and adopted
Paragraph 1 a (new)
Calls on the Commission and Member States to be more rigorous in assessing the impact of future and existing regulation on SMEs and competitiveness in general; believes that the assessment of an impact on competitiveness should form a significant part of the impact assessment process; considers that the draft revised guidelines should contain direction on how impacts on competitiveness should be assessed and weighed in the final analysis; supports a standing presumption that proposals with a negative impact on competitiveness should be rejected, unless evidence supporting significant unquantifiable benefits is presented;
Paragraph 1 c (new)
Considers that the concept of the scoreboards should be revised and should instead comprise two documents, one outlining a work plan, and a second, new document which details the progress made by the Commission expressed in a quantitative fashion; calls for this document to form the basis of an annual statement of new costs to business, an easily understood statement or ledger of 'debits and credits' in terms of the administrative and regulatory impact from proposals adopted in the previous legislative year which would be much more useful, and would show that the Commission understands that the cumulative cost of regulation is often the problem;
Believes that better regulation principles should apply to decisions on secondary legislation as well as primary legislation; calls on the Commission and its agencies where appropriate to accompany delegated and implementing acts with a mandatory impact assessment, including consultation with interested parties and stakeholders, whenever their impact can be expected to be considerable; calls, to that effect, for an amendment of the guidelines for implementing acts in line with the general guidelines for delegated acts; emphasises that co-legislators should be as specific as possible in Tier 1 legislation about what delegated and implementing acts should accomplish; notes that in the European Parliament Resolution of 4 February 2014 on EU Regulatory Fitness and Subsidiarity and Proportionality the Commis! sion was urged to step up its review of the application of the principle of proportionality, especially with regard to the use of Article 290 and 291 TFEU on delegated and implementing acts; also notes that in the same resolution the Parliament called on the Commission to strengthen the role and independence of the Impact Assessment Board (IAB), and in particular only to finalise and present legislative proposals where they have been approved with a favourable opinion by that Board;
Welcomes the prospective drafting of internal guidelines for improving the quality of consultations and their evaluation; believes that as regards the complexity of the policy choices in any one area, the questions in consultations need to be both more specific and worded so as to be clearly understandable; where legislation is proposed in a complex field, considers that a second stage of consultation should be envisaged whereby a draft legislative act is published, accompanied by a provisional Impact Assessment, for comment by all relevant stakeholders; considers that this second stage would introduce further rigor into the Commission's analysis and strengthen the case for any proposal adopted following this process;
My Political Priorities
Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.
I support Science and Research which is key to delivering better medical care, healthy food as well as the Innovation and Creative Industries which bring improved lifestyles for all our families.
Strong home Security is vital in today's uncertain world, which requires robust policing and defence and deep international relationships that we can depend on. I work with others to achieve this.
I care about the Countryside and the Environment and making sure that rural and urban communities flourish.