‘Better regulation’: More transparent, impartial and inclusive policy drafting needed at the EU level

Today, a public consultation on ‘Better regulation’ -the European Commission’s central instrument to slim down EU legislation to the minimum of what is required “to achieve objectives and bring benefits at minimum cost”- comes to a close. In its consultation response, CESI calls for more transparent, impartial and inclusive EU policy drafting.

CESI agrees with the overall objective to have targeted EU legislation which is free from unnecessary complexity or rules on challenges that are best dealt with by the EU Member States. As such, a tool for analysis and review, managed by the European Commission, about which rules and legislation are needed in which are obsolete can be a useful instrument for an efficient and effective EU policy design. There is a role for a ‘Better regulation‘ agenda.

However, CESI raises doubts whether the structure of the tool is fit for purpose to arrive at ‘better’ regulation in the EU. CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said:”According to CESI, ‘better’ regulation should mean, in terms of processes, designing policies in the most transparent, impartial and inclusive manner possible and, in terms of content, having an open eye in policies for a sustainable balance between social, environmental and economic considerations. In both the process and the content-wise direction, the ‘Better regulation’ agenda needs improvement.”

For instance:

• Too often, it seems that the ‘Better regulation’ agenda, materialised via evaluations, roadmaps and impact assessments, is above all a biased tool for the European Commission to help it justify proposing to cut rules to reduce costs for economic actors and enterprises. However, according to CESI, the economic without the social can never be sustainable. Deregulation at the expense of workers is neither fair not expedient, as an adequate protection of workers is both an end in itself as well as an instrument to achieve sustainable economic growth and macroeconomic prosperity in the long term – even if it appears to some to be an “unnecessary cost” and harmful for “competitiveness” at first glance in the short term.

• The wording in consultation documents and the questions posed therein by the European Commission towards the stakeholders seem all too often biased towards the European Commission’s political objectives. The questions should not be narrowly framed but give space for stakeholders to actually provide new ideas beyond of where the European Commission obviously seems to want to head.

• The Regulatory Scrutiny Board, a body of seven members that advise the European Commission on impact assessments and evaluations of policies, should be independent but is instituted by the European Commission itself. It has immense power in the political and legislative field, yet is neither democratically legitimised nor controlled. According to CESI, evidence presented by the social partners (also the sectoral ones!), the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, as well as information gathered in meaningful public consultations, should be the backbone of transparent and evidence-based policy drafting in the European Commission, not impact assessments drawn up by external consultancies according to the European Commission’s wishes and then rubberstamped in uncontrolled procedures.

CESI’s full consultation statement can be accessed here.