Full text 
Procedure : 2006/2006(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Select a document :

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 04/04/2006 - 13
CRE 04/04/2006 - 13

Votes :

PV 16/05/2006 - 10.2
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


Tuesday, 4 April 2006 - Strasbourg OJ edition

13. Monitoring the application of Community law (2003-2004) - Better lawmaking 2004: application of the principle of subsidiarity - The implementation consequences and impact of the internal market legislation in force - Strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment (debate)

  President. The next item is the joint debate ‘Better law-making’, which deals with four reports:

- the report by Monica Frassoni, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs, on the Commission's 21st and 22nd annual reports on monitoring the application of Community law (2003 and 2004) [2005/2150(INI)] (A6-0089/2006),

- the report by Bert Doorn, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs, on better lawmaking 2004: application of the principle of subsidiarity 12th annual report [2005/2055(INI)] (A6-0082/2006),

- the report by Arlene McCarthy, on behalf of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, on the implementation, consequences and impact of the internal market legislation in force [2004/2224(INI)](A6-0083/2006) and

- the report by Giuseppe Gargani, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs, on a strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment [2006/2006(INI)](A6-0080/2006).


  Monica Frassoni (Verts/ALE), rapporteur. – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I am particularly delighted to take the floor today, not in my usual guise as my group’s representative, but as rapporteur for the Committee on Legal Affairs representing a broader-based majority. As such, I should like to deliver a few messages about this report, the essential aim of which is to emphasise that the implementation of Community law forms an important part of the ‘better lawmaking’ dossier, alongside the other issues that we shall debate this afternoon.

Implementation is an important part of law primarily because the situation at European Union level is unsatisfactory, as the Commission’s report points out very effectively. There are very serious problems particularly concerning environmental legislation as well as legislation on the internal market, and responsibility for that – there is no point in denying it – lies above all with the Member States.

Non-implementation is also due, however, to the fact that the procedure is enshrined in the Treaties and is therefore not easy to improve. It is a slow procedure that provides for relatively inadequate sanctions: in order to arrive at a positive solution for the implementation of Community law by the Member States, the procedure often leaves much to be desired and takes a very long time.

I should like to hear whether you believe that this issue of the implementation of Community law is a priority for the Commission or not. Judging from the communication, it does not seem to me that it is, because, as we know, it deals more with the aspect of withdrawing and amending directives rather than their proper implementation.

I believe that there are substantially two schools of thought in the Commission: one that says, ‘It is best to avoid trouble with the Member States, so let us try to solve problems together with them,’ whereas the other says, ‘Let us apply the rules as they are, not inflexibly but at any rate positively, using procedures that as far as possible are fast and within the law.’

I should like to give some examples of that. We believe that several decisions made by the Commission regarding the initiation of certain procedures, such as those on GMOs in Austria, were made particularly quickly and effectively. On the other hand, in the case of France and its inability to implement the Natura 2000 Directive, we have been waiting for three years, ever since the Court of Justice’s decision, for the Commission to intervene under Article 228, which is the article on fines.

Similarly, there are interesting situations regarding the citizens’ right to reimbursement of their medical expenses. This is an extremely important issue for the people themselves, but we realise that it remains unresolved because it is a politically complicated issue to take on. At the same time, Article 228 has only been invoked twice: once for the Greek waste discharge case, which was suspended after a very short time, and once for the Spanish bathing water case, which was withdrawn at the last minute because of an issue that the Commission itself admits is rather dubious from a legal standpoint.

What answer do we give or what proposals do we make to resolve a situation in which we believe that the Commission should act more transparently? First of all we believe that there should be greater surveillance and greater transparency regarding the ways in which Community law is implemented. I think it is important that the Commission pass on to us the compliance studies that it carries out on implementation of the law, which unfortunately we have not succeeded in obtaining.

Secondly, I believe it is extremely important for resources to be transferred from all those bodies that will no longer produce legislation to those that will instead implement it. We do not agree with the idea, for instance, that there should be such a transfer to those who will carry out impact assessments, something that is currently being discussed in the Commission. Thirdly – and this affects us – we believe that the European Parliament should act much more specifically in the area of the implementation of Community law, not in order to change the Commission’s powers – I am aware that this is of great concern to the members of that Institution – but, on the contrary, to gain a clearer idea of what actually happens, as the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and other committees do.

I believe that the policy of naming and shaming with regard to the implementation of Community law is very useful and that the Commission should perhaps help us to apply it more decisively.


  Bert Doorn (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (NL) Mr President, I would like to quote an article from an authoritative Dutch newspaper in May last year, just before the referendum in the Netherlands. The quote starts as follows: ‘Not Barroso, not Blair, but Mr van Alphen from the Netherlands, along with thousands of other national civil servants, takes the day-to-day decisions in Europe’. This article did nothing to contribute towards a positive basic perception in the Netherlands of the referendum. You know it all went horribly wrong. The Netherlands said no, which is worrying. It is these very rules and regulations that are a source of worry and that we should discuss in more detail today.

We must work hard in order to remove the negative image the citizen has of rules and regulations. How can we achieve this? We can do it by making them more transparent. We must also consider the administrative burden that results from them. Many companies have the mill stone of a heavy administrative burden round their necks, and if there is anything that affects companies’ competitiveness, then this is it.

How do we achieve more transparency and cut the administrative burden? We can do it, in the first place, by carrying out an actual impact assessment, and that is what is still lacking at the moment. We have seen many examples of impact assessments, and they all vary in terms of quality. Some are good, and some are not. If we in this House want to benefit from impact assessments, then they should offer impartial and sound information that is readily understood. That is what is missing.

We in this House have first-hand experience of some impact assessments on amendments; we too have found that the quality varies, and that is why I propose an independent review of them. This need not be done by a weighty authority. This could be a panel of four experts in the field of impact assessment, who simply look at the impact assessments carried out by the Commission and those carried out in this House, and who then issue recommendations on that basis. In other words, there is no need for an agency or weighty authority; what we simply need is an independent quality review, one that is effective and external.

Turning to comitology, the article I mentioned a moment ago had something to say about this too. It also included another paragraph, one about the committees, which I do not want to keep from you. ‘You do not see them, you do not hear them, some 450 consulting clubs in Brussels, constantly take decisions that affect the everyday life of the citizens.’ More transparency is needed in that area too. When comitology leads to secondary legislation, this legislation must also be verified. We must demonstrate the implications of legislation of that kind by means of an impact assessment. The public will then see that we mean business and that we actually want this transparency.

Finally, as Mrs Frassoni already pointed out, implementation is extremely important and Parliament should devote far more attention to it. When a report has been discussed in the plenary, then the work of the rapporteur is done. I would suggest asking the rapporteur in question, three years after approval in this House, to notify his committee of the state of play in terms of implementation. This will contribute significantly to the proper transposal in the Member States and also to sound contacts with national parliaments.

Those are the proposals: more transparency, objective supervision of the impact assessment, limits to comitology, more insight into comitology and possibly a call-back right for the European Parliament should the need arise. Those are the components of an inter-institutional agreement that I think are needed in order to really get going with these rules and regulations.


  Arlene McCarthy (PSE), rapporteur. Mr President, as Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection I very much welcome this joint debate on better regulation and the opportunity to discuss with the Council and the Commission how we can improve the regulatory experience for consumers, citizens and businesses that are at the sharp end of making sense of implementing EU laws. The confidence and trust of citizens, consumers and business in the EU itself is linked to their experience and perception of EU laws and the impact they have on their daily lives.

I want to focus on improving better regulation for the internal market and ensuring that we achieve a sense of purpose in our law-making for consumers in the internal market. The internal market accounts for almost one third of the Community acquis. Good-quality, effective and simple legislation in the internal market should open up opportunities for cross-border trade and give consumers increased choice, while protecting environmental, social and consumer rights. At the same time, getting legislation right in the internal market is critical to achieving the Lisbon goals of jobs, growth and competitiveness.

I believe that the internal market will benefit most from a joint and coordinated approach by all three institutions to improving the entire regulatory cycle. That means that we also need to think of the consequences of the midnight deals and compromises that we make, and consider whether they are going to confuse or clarify laws for end users. That starts, in my view, with good, clear drafting of laws, high-quality impact assessments and effective, comprehensive and transparent stakeholder consultation. The Member States too must take their responsibilities seriously and ensure good and correct implementation of internal market laws. They must resist the temptation often to gold-plate or add on national requirements. Although transposition rates are improving, as shown in the internal market scoreboards, there is still room for much improvement. That is why we are asking for a fast-track infringement procedure for test cases in the internal market. We need to learn from the failures and mistakes of EU laws. That is why we would like to see both ex ante and, in particular, ex post impact assessments or evaluations of where we went wrong. Has this legislation achieved its objective or, on the contrary, has it led to distortion and fragmentation of the internal market?

Some believe that the impact assessments should be handed over to an external body. I do not share that approach, as I believe that the internal market laws should be the responsibility of Commission officials as part of the discipline of effective policy-making. However, the Internal Market Committee insists that all legislative proposals be accompanied by a quality impact assessment, a summary and a better regulation checklist on internal market proposals.

Of course alternative regulation is a subject of much scepticism. While the interinstitutional agreement provides for this non-legislative option, we insist with respect to internal market laws that Parliament is both informed of and consulted on such alternative approaches. They are justified by impact assessments. Equally, we must have redress for the consumer and sanctions if these alternative regulations fail to deliver benefits for the consumer in the internal market.

I want to stress the work of the Internal Market Committee as an active partner in the better regulation process. I know that Commissioners often say that Parliament does not take its role seriously. We were the first committee to commission our own impact assessment, under Mr Whitehead’s chairmanship, for amendments on the Toubon report on nominal quantities for pre-packed products. On the pyrotechnics proposal we are conducting an impact assessment on amendments proposed by our rapporteur. We will look at a cost/benefit analysis of his amendments to that proposal. We are conducting a hearing on the impact of public procurement laws on the internal market. EU public procurement accounts for 16% of EU GDP, yet the 1992 package of laws, as demonstrated in a number of ECJ cases, has not achieved the desired opening of the market.

Let us be clear. It is the consumer, the citizen and businesses that pay the price when laws are not effective. Bad drafting leads to legal uncertainty, poor or confused transposition and at the end of the line is a confused businessman or consumer who loses confidence in the internal market. The ECJ, after years of deliberation, becomes the arbiter of better legislation. That is not the right way forward.

Finally, I want to quote the cases of SOLVIT, which I believe is an excellent initiative of the Commission. A qualified doctor tried for a number of years to register as a doctor in Spain. He spent a large sum of money on legal fees, had lost confidence in the internal market, yet the SOLVIT system intervened and helped him within ten weeks to get registration in Spain as a doctor. That doctor said: ‘SOLVIT has restored my confidence in the internal market’.

So, the reality is that good laws that are well drafted, easy to implement, easy to enforce and police, are the key to restoring confidence in the internal market. I hope that today’s debate is the beginning of a process of close cooperation, sharing best practice between the institutions in a close partnership of equals, to build and restore that confidence that the doctor I mentioned was asking us to achieve for him as a consumer in the internal market.



  Klaus-Heiner Lehne (PPE-DE), deputy rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to talk about three aspects, starting with the issue of simplification. There is no doubt that this House is, as a matter of principle, backing the Commission in its efforts at simplifying the lawmaking process, but I also want to make it clear that here, as in so many other instances, the devil is in the detail, and that we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Let me give you an example. Looking at this document from the Commission, for example, I see that they want to simplify the whole body of commercial and company law; now I know, as one of the Legal Affairs Committee’s permanent rapporteurs on this area, that many of the directives and regulations we have enacted on this were the result of highly complex negotiations and compromises and that there is, in any proposal for simplification, the inherent risk of Pandora’s box being opened and of the compromises arrived at after much effort ending up being once more open to question. That means that simplification is an instrument that must be handled with great care.

It is for that reason that I believe that it is very definitely advisable that we should give some thought, when simplifying just as much as when codifying, to the possibility of the three institutions adopting an inter-institutional agreement stating in clear terms how one goes about simplifying laws.

A second point to which I should like the Commission to give some thought is the issue of what priorities simplification proposals should set. Directives are customarily addressed to the national legislatures rather than to the public, and the laws with which practitioners have to deal are those enacted at the national level. It follows that the simplification of directives should be no more than a secondary objective. The Commission should give priority to regulations, for the simple reason that regulations are directly applicable as law and have a direct effect on those members of the public who have recourse to law.

The second issue has to do with impact assessment. I want once more to ram home the point that most of us in this House regard an independent element in the assessment of laws’ impact as vitally necessary. In a report it produced in December, this House called for an independent agency on the American model. For my part, I want to make it clear that this is not a conditio sine qua non for me; it is something we can talk about. What I do regard as indispensable, though, is the participation of an independent external element in the assessment of the impact laws have. It is not acceptable that the officials who make proposals are also and at the same time the ones who are responsible for gauging what impact those proposals will have, for the consequence of that is that the impact assessment ends up being no more and no less than part of the justification for them, and that is not what we want. It is for that reason, then, that I believe we have to hammer out something sensible with the Commission in relation to this issue.

An inter-institutional agreement has been in place since December 2003, according to which the Commission is, in principle, responsible for the impact assessment. That also means, though, that it is exercising a responsibility with and on behalf of the legislature, that is to say, for Parliament and the Council, and so we believe that we in this House, too, should have – and do have – a right to be consulted as to how this impact assessment is carried out.

I might add that that is also the reason why we, in the Conference of Presidents, initially delayed adopting a resolution on the follow-up administrative agreements, since these, of course, have to be renegotiated, not least in the light of the resolutions that we will be adopting on these four reports in May of this year.

I would also like to say something about something that is very definitely a live issue. On 16 March, Advocate-General Sharpston delivered an opinion in the case of Spain versus the Council, in the conclusions to which she refers explicitly to the impact assessment, stating that the absence of any adequate impact assessment is an indication of the legal act having been adopted arbitrarily, and that demonstrates and confirms the Court of Justice’s increasing interest in this issue.

Further to what Mr Doorn has had to say on the subject, I think it is crucial that decisions arrived at by way of comitology also need to have their impact assessed. There are a whole load of cases that we could take as examples, where the real bureaucratic madness lay in the comitological decisions rather than in the legislation itself, so, here too, there needs to be proper monitoring of what impact laws have.

Last of all, let me turn to the third issue, that of stake holder consultation, that is to say the process whereby the interested parties are listened to. In preparing legislation, the Commission has come to rely very heavily on Europe-wide organisations and associations. I have nothing against the European lobbying associations, but the processes whereby they arrive at decisions are sometimes more complex than those in the Council of Ministers, and what emerges from them is often consensus compacted into nonsense. I believe we need still other forms of consultative machinery in order to get the information directly from those interested parties who are working at their jobs and therefore have to deal with these issues. So, for example, the consultative machinery we came up with through the network currently engaged in developing European contract law, with which we defined a limited category of person to be consulted, could be a good example of how to improve these mechanisms.


  Hans Winkler, President-in-Office of the Council. – (DE) Mr President, I am glad to have the opportunity today to discuss with you an issue that is of great importance for Europe. I know from my own, very close, contacts with the public over recent months that the issue of ‘Better Lawmaking’, along with everything that is associated with it – perhaps not as a slogan, for many of them do not know what it stands for, but as a principle – is one of the issues of greatest interest to them.

As you know, the Commission’s programme for this year is under the heading of ‘unlocking Europe’s full potential’, and rightly too. The Council is convinced that better lawmaking will be crucial in making this possible. It is our intention that lawmaking should support the citizen rather than hampering him, and the same is true – as Mrs McCarthy has already said – of the consumer, but it is most especially the case in business life, where too little has been done to foster the dynamism and creativity of small and medium-sized businesses in particular. Only recently, the European Council indicated its desire to promote small and medium-sized enterprises and provided some impetus in that direction. Studies have shown us that the administrative burden for businesses and members of the public is equivalent to between 2% and 5% of European GNP, and so it is our intention that a marked upturn in competitiveness be brought about by assessing the impact of the administrative burden, simplification, and a reduction in it.

The term ‘better regulation’ is one that has recently been in frequent use, and I certainly agree with Mr Lehne that we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater and that this term is very often used rather loosely, and in such a way as to devalue it, in that it is not always clear what is meant by it. I can say on behalf of the Council that your House’s engagement with this issue in no fewer than four reports today is very much to be welcomed.

The Council presidency continues to regard the Inter-Institutional Agreement on Better Lawmaking, to which reference has already been made today, as the framework for our cooperation. We intend to collaborate with the future Finnish Presidency, with the Commission, and, of course, with your House, in further advancing the agenda for the reform of the regulatory framework.

Let me discuss in greater detail some of the areas that are significant in this context.

I will start with simplification. The simplification of EU regulations is something that has a tangible effect on businesses and the public, and it is for that reason that it will be particularly efficient if it also enables us to gain greater credibility. Commissioner Verheugen’s screening initiative and the current plans for sectoral simplification and further efforts at horizontal simplification put us on the right track. I am also very impressed by the presence of the President and the Vice-President in this House today and by their participation in this debate, for we must encourage further progress down this road, and that is precisely what the Council and the Commission are doing by doing something to bring Europe closer to its citizens. As you know, the Austrian Presidency has to some extent taken ‘bringing Europe closer to its citizens again’ as its watchword, and these initiatives, including those on the part of the Commission, make a substantial contribution to doing that. They also help Europe to be successful in achieving the Lisbon targets. The Presidency of the Council is glad to see that the Commission is not only pursuing the ‘simplification of existing legislation’ by means of a general weeding-out of the acquis, but is also planning to include in this the outcome of the Council’s efforts in this area.

Together with the future Finnish Presidency and the Commission, we are working towards better working methods for simplification and towards maximising the efficiency of the cooperation between the Council, the Commission and Parliament, and so it is also useful that the Commission should, on an annual basis, provide the Council with information on its programme of simplification. We also propose that the simplification dossiers be put near the top of our agendas, and that the Council and Parliament should endeavour, where possible, to adopt simplification dossiers at first reading.

The burden of administration – to which reference has already been made – upon the persons it affects is, of course, directly measurable and affects them directly. We need instruments in the European sphere to do just that. Such instruments exist; now all we have to do is to use them. The Presidency of the Council is currently drafting a paper on the prescription of quantitative targets in this area.

As my third point, I would like to turn to the subject of the choice of legal instruments, for, whatever our efforts towards improving lawmaking, there are a number of important aspects of which we must not lose sight, among them the subsidiarity principle and the principle of proportionality, while at the same time taking care to ensure that the acquis communautaire remains intact. It is not less Europe, but a better Europe, that we would like to see.

The principles of subsidiarity and of proportionality are fundamental guidelines for action by the institutions in their exercise of EU competences and hence an integral part of better lawmaking.

Subsidiarity and proportionality also play a central role in the choice of legal instruments. In carrying out impact assessments, several alternative courses of action need to be considered, one of which must be the option of acting at a lower level than the EU itself.

Contrariwise, though, the interests of legal clarity and the smooth functioning of the internal market can be better served by regulations than by directives, and that, too, has been referred to today. All in all, it is crucial that, in each individual case, the instrument should be chosen that best enables Europe to achieve what regulation is intended to do, and so, in practice, there is a close connection between impact assessments, which are of considerable value qualitatively speaking, and the effective application of subsidiarity and proportionality.

Both the Council and Parliament are already obliged by the inter-institutional agreement to have extensive recourse to the Commission’s impact assessments in the process of arriving at decisions. These impact assessments by the Commission can therefore also serve as the basis for an active discussion of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. Perhaps I might take this opportunity to reiterate that we intend, in order to add depth to this discussion, to organise a conference on subsidiarity in Austria on 18 and 19 April, at which we look forward to valuable contributions from your House.

As was generally stressed today, impact assessments must be produced to the highest possible standards of quality and must then actually be used in the negotiating process; The Austrian Presidency of the Council will be producing what might be termed a handbook for chairmen of Council working groups with the title ‘How to Handle Impact Assessments in Council’.

We also want to encourage more cooperation between the institutions, particularly in respect of assessing the impact of major amendments proposed by the Council and in the consistent adherence to the agreed modus operandi in all three of them, and, with this in mind, we look forward with great interest to the Commission’s impact assessment review, which has been announced for this spring.

Overall, the presidency shares your House’s view that high quality impact assessments are essential components of an improved regulatory framework.

Something else to which reference was made was the involvement of what are termed ‘stakeholders’ in consultation processes, which is vital if there is to be greater transparency. Interested parties must be fully informed about the options for consultation, account must be taken of their views when policies are drawn up, and they must also be given proper feedback.

Let me conclude by adding something about transparency. If the public are to accept the decisions we take, it is important not only that the laws we enact be comprehensible and simple, but also that we do a better job of explaining how these decisions are arrived at. The decision-making process needs to be as transparent as possible for the general public. Our Federal Chancellor said this when presenting the Austrian Council programme, and it is a point I have emphasised on many occasions. The Austrian Presidency of the Council attaches importance to continued progress in transparency. The first steps have been taken by way of the resolutions adopted last December, on the basis of which we are now attempting to give this practical expression and, where possible, to highlight other ways in which greater transparency may be achieved.

As I said at the outset, ‘better lawmaking’ is a project of public relevance and of direct concern to all of us. If it is accomplished successfully, we will, together, have been able to add real value and to again make the benefits of the European Union clearer to its citizens.




  José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. (FR) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, European legislation is central to everything that makes the European Union special. We are, in fact, a Community based on the rule of law. Without law, we should have to rely on continual negotiation, on the balance of power between the Member States or else on goodwill, in theory only, on cooperation and on willingness. We do not want a Community based on the arbitrary and the discretionary. We want a Community based on the rule of law. It is law that can guarantee those freedoms that Europeans enjoy today.

I believe that this is an important point of principle and here I would like to make a personal observation. Three days ago, at the European University Institute in Florence, I gave a lecture, the Jean Monnet lecture, which focused precisely on my conception of law in the European Union. I believe that it is more necessary than ever to reaffirm those principles of a Community based on the rule of law that is our Community. That is what makes it different from other experiments at international level.

We make laws for a number of reasons: for example, to protect health by ensuring food safety, to protect the environment by setting standards for air and water quality and to lay down rules for businesses operating within the internal market, so as to enable them to fight on equal terms, avoiding all discrimination.

We make laws at European Union level because the Member States have agreed that certain measures should be determined at Community level. In practical terms, it is indeed a matter of substituting a single rule, applicable throughout the European Union, for 25 national rules. For all that, we have to ensure that European legislation and regulations give added value: they must be targeted, they must conform to the principles of subsidiarity and they must be correctly implemented, while at the same time being proportionate to the needs that they are intended to meet. The measures adopted must not be excessive nor go beyond what is strictly necessary. We must avoid rules that are too prescriptive, that lead to unwarranted expense, or that may turn out to be counter-productive.

We must also eliminate the cumulative effects of rules which, in time, end up overlapping with each other, an outcome that is detrimental to businesses, to the voluntary sector, to public authorities and to the citizens.

Allow me, therefore, to congratulate the European Parliament on its excellent initiative to hold this debate on the topic of ‘better lawmaking’. It gives us the opportunity to examine this issue coherently. I wish to thank Mrs Frassoni, Mr Doorn, Mrs McCarthy and Mr Gargani, for whom Mr Lehne is standing in today, for their excellent work and for their reports.

In order to properly evaluate the quality of our legislative initiatives, we need a set of measures and a strong guiding principle. That is what clearly emerges from the various reports, which I believe provide a sound basis for our exchange of views today. These reports and the way in which we respond to them prove that our two institutions have come a long way in recent years. The need for better lawmaking and for laying down better rules is the subject of a genuine consensus. Our legislative activity is a continuous process. We must work together to ensure that our political choices, whatever they may be, are translated into legislation of the highest quality. Here, I would also like to congratulate the Austrian Presidency on all of the measures it has taken in this respect.

How do we perceive this challenge? We acknowledge it: we still need to make improvements to all the stages of the cycle, that is, from acts already adopted to new initiatives, via proposals currently under negotiation. That is why the Commission has launched a vast system for better lawmaking that combines several measures: a system designed to evaluate the impact of the Commission’s important proposals; a programme designed to simplify the legislation in force and to withdraw a number of the Commission’s proposals that are awaiting consideration by Parliament and the Council; and more frequent recourse to other ways of resolving problems aside from conventional legislation, for example, self-regulation by the parties concerned or coregulation by the legislator. All of these measures are now producing tangible results.

Let us look at impact assessment. Since 2003, the Commission has put in place a system to look at the economic, social and environmental impact of all its major proposals. Since the adoption of an integrated approach, 120 impact assessments have been published. We have also updated our guidelines to help staff to better examine options and impacts, including on competitiveness, and to focus attention on issues such as the cost of too much paperwork. This reflects a marked and profound change in approach and attitude. I believe it is real progress. We know that as yet assessments do not all meet the same standards. We know there is room for improvement. We recognise, as pointed out in Mr Doorn’s report on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs, that quality can be improved and that quality control mechanisms must be strengthened.

I fully subscribe to the need for a separate scrutiny of impact assessments; a kind of ‘four eyes’ principle. We are working on a comprehensive approach. First we need to ensure that our impact assessments are organised in the right way. As promised in March 2005, we are setting up a network of technical and scientific experts to help us develop methods of ensuring that impact assessments are comprehensive and of high quality. An external evaluation of the system is also under way, to identify where we are doing well and where we need to do better. Also, the authors of impact assessments need feedback to know if they have done a good job. That is why consultation is part and parcel of the impact assessment process. It is also one reason why all Commission impact assessments are on the Europa website.

As for quality control of the individual assessments, I agree that an independent check should be carried out independently of the services that propose legislation. I suggest that the best guarantee of impartiality is to put such a check under the authority of the President of the Commission. I have asked the Secretary-General of the Commission to examine how best to step up our quality support and control.

But let me stress that we need to work much more closely with you on impact assessment. I welcome the recent agreement on the common approach to impact assessment. This set of rules for dealing with impact assessment across all three institutions is an important step forward; it will facilitate our work together and avoid duplication of effort.

Moving on to simplification, we have made a good start. The action programme, which we adopted last year, provides for the repeal, codification, recasting or modification of some 220 legal acts covering a wide range of policies. The programme, already under way in the automobile, waste and construction sectors, will be reviewed and updated in consultation with stakeholders. Other sectors such as foodstuffs, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and services will follow. We need your input to determine the right targets and to secure the best results.

We need the Council and Parliament to speed up the adoption of simplification proposals. My reading from your reports is that we basically agree on what we are trying to achieve. Now we have to get down to work, look at the substance and deliver results.

We are also tackling administrative burdens, which are particularly burdensome for small businesses. This means simplifying forms and modernising the customs code to assist electronic exchange of information. We are introducing the measurement of administrative costs in our impact assessments. It is essential that the Council and Parliament pay attention to the paperwork load when they suggest amendments.

We also need to test new approaches to regulation, looking at co-regulation and self-regulation as a possible alternative. We can work more closely with industry, for example, to deliver results on a voluntary basis.

I understand very well your concerns about not being closely involved in the preparation of non-legislative approaches. Where such approaches seem the best route, I fully accept the need to work out ways of keeping Parliament involved in their preparation and implementation.

Finally, I would like to say a word about the implementation of law. This is a high priority for the Commission. I ask you to look at the conclusions of our College meeting today. We analysed 2055 cases of infringements. That was the decision of the Commission today. Sometimes the decisions are very difficult and we expect some Member States to react. I hope you support the strong commitment of this Commission to the implementation and enforcement of Community law.

Our laws need to be correctly applied and implemented, otherwise our efforts as policy- and lawmakers are in vain. As more and more policy areas mature, we should see a shift in political attention and resources towards implementation. In fact that is a great priority for this Commission. This whole programme of better regulation – including implementation – has become a flagship of this Commission. I am personally devoted to it, as are Vice-President Verheugen and the whole College. As the Commission we need to manage infringement proceedings efficiently. I am conscious of the need to reduce the timespan on individual infringement procedures. We need quicker ways to respond to the problems faced by citizens in business. We should look at these broad issues of implementation together and explore constructive ways of dealing with them. Later this year I expect the Commission to come back to you with specific suggestions.

I believe that the reports discussed today show a shared analysis of what needs to be done. We have been putting the building blocks in place and now we have to deliver on our commitment. I am convinced that if we work in partnership we can show that Europe is not about red tape and unnecessary burdens but about delivering what citizens need in the right way. I believe that if we work in partnership we will reinforce a Community based on the principles of law.



  Ieke van den Burg (PSE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. (NL) I fully endorse what Mr Barroso said in the latter part of his speech. On behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, I have drafted an opinion on Mr Doorn’s report. I should like to congratulate him on it and also thank him for including, virtually in their entirety, the various paragraphs that we in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, had incorporated in our opinion, based on our experience.

I would also like to endorse what Mr Winkler said and respond by adding a slightly different slant, namely that better regulation does not always mean fewer rules and regulations or deregulation, but rather more effective regulation that is mainly geared towards the outcome and end result. This cycle of preparation, consultation, formulating rules, impact assessment and subsequently the implementation and enforcement has been mentioned by various people. In our opinion, I argued that we should, in fact, start at the back and look at the process from that angle. How can we make the process effective and based on that, what are the rules that we need to draft?

A bad example of how this was not done, how this had not been given any thought and how the field dimension had not been drawn on at the preparation stage was the services directive which we discussed just now in its original form. Fortunately, this directive has now been changed by Parliament.

I would also like to mention good examples from that selfsame Directorate-General market. Particularly in the area of the financial provision of services, a practice has been developed in that directorate and proposed by the Lamfalussy experts committee, which we call the Lamfalussy procedure. In this framework, it is indeed those who use the rules and regulations in practice, namely the supervisors, the economic operators, the consumers and users involved in the process, who should have far more say in terms of the content of those rules. We have also used this example to show others, and that is something we would like to make quite clear once again in this discussion. Whilst we have problems with the call back and Parliament’s responsibility as colegislator to be able to monitor what is eventually produced, the process as such is something we wholeheartedly support.


  Pervenche Berès (PSE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. (FR) Madam President, Mr Winkler, Commissioners, this debate is essential. It deals, after all, with the Commission’s right of initiative in legislative matters. Whether it is a matter of better regulation or of lawmaking, what is important is the way in which the initiative for the law is taken. If, in the Treaties, the Commission has been granted the right of initiative, it is because it has to represent the general interest. It has to show this ability not to be merely a sounding board for the various businesses concerned, but to represent all those who cannot necessarily organise themselves. In this respect, I think we are all convinced of the fact that better regulation is undoubtedly important for the world of business, but that it must also result at times in more legislation. That, Mr Barroso, is what Parliament told you very clearly, when your Commission was proposing to withdraw 68 proposals for texts and when, very clearly, in relation to Friendly Societies, we spoke of the need for legislation.

On behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, I drafted an opinion on Mr Gargani’s report, which focuses on simplifying the legislation and, in that regard, I should like to make three observations.

Firstly, we must be mindful of the fact that, in this area, behind every technical question, there clearly lies a political question about content: what is it that we are simplifying? What acquis communautaire are we working on behind the simplification?

Secondly, there are those who sometimes believe that better regulation is synonymous with self-regulation. Within the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs we have, in the form of accounting standards, a perfect example of a situation where, in the absence of very specific democratic regulation, dangerous abuses can sometimes arise.

Finally, the quest for simplification must also lead to the implementation of legislation that is better drawn up, whereby Parliament defines the principles and the rest is left to comitology. As you know, we fully support such an approach since it is based on a comitology agreement that fully recognises the rights of the co-legislator, that is to say the European Parliament, in the matter.


  Eoin Ryan (UEN), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. Madam President, Member States touting protectionism as a positive policy option are dressing up protectionism as patriotism or are scared not of what Europe might become, but of what it already is: an economy based on free trade and competition. As a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and a draftsman of an opinion on better lawmaking, I am adamant that boosting competition via regulatory reform is the initial stimulus that Europe needs to improve productivity.

I see it as imperative that all future legislative impact assessments should take into account the increasing level of global competition. Furthermore, if the European Union is to become more responsible and flexible to the global current of market change, I propose to the Commission that a review clause be introduced into all new legislation. Also, it is fundamental that, under the guise of better lawmaking, alternatives to legislation be examined. Measures such as enhanced levels of consultation and mechanisms to quicken the resolution of disputes need to be investigated.

The prime objective of all legislation should be to allow the internal market to function without cross-border obstacles to the growth of industries. We must grasp, therefore, the opportunities that are presented by substantial economies of scale through mergers and acquisitions. I am anxious that concrete steps be taken by the Commission to reduce the cost to business of complying with 25 different national regimes. I welcome the operation of the Financial Services Action Plan. However, Member States should not be allowed to become complacent in the implementation of these 42 directives. If commitment is lacking, then enforcement measures need to be put in place.

Consistency and the rate of implementation need to be improved if the Lisbon objectives and the challenges of globalisation are realistically to be met. People need to realise that globalisation is here, and it is here to stay. It is unacceptable politically and economically that some Member States should seek to revert to protectionist policies. Irish companies and other European companies are trying to make a reality of the single market and tackle the challenges of globalisation head on, and the governments touting protectionism should not stand in their way.


  Mihael Brejc (PPE-DE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. – (SL) I support the efforts of the Commission and everyone else towards better lawmaking and towards the better drafting of European Union legislation, and yet I regret, at the same time, that the Constitutional Treaty has not been adopted. I regret this, specifically, because in the Constitutional Treaty we prepared a very good transparent regulatory framework, which offers us another opportunity to speed up the process of the ratification of the Constitutional Treaty.

Today, Mr Barroso mentioned areas which require further review. He should add terrorism to that list. In the field of terrorism, we have already adopted 58 regulations, directives and so on – 27 of them are in the draft stage and some 15 are yet to come. In a nutshell, our regulatory system to combat terrorism is extremely untransparent: I am unable to navigate through it and I hope that terrorists are also unable to find their bearings amongst all this confusion.

Europe is suffering from at least two forms of idealism. The first is normative idealism: if a given area is unregulated, we think that more regulation will solve the problem. The consequence of this is that regulation is allowed to expand out of all proportion. The second is organisational idealism: if we think that a field needs to be better regulated, we set up an institution. The last one we set up was an institution for equal opportunities, and the one before that was an institution for human rights. As if they were a guarantee of more and better regulation.

These are illusions which will never become reality, so the Commission would do better to examine how these areas are regulated and, of course, how they impact on people. People are wondering if it is really necessary for us to have so much legislation, so many institutions etc. In addition, I do not believe that the Commission needs new institutions to supervise legislative acts and the revision of their drafts, because we have a Parliament which can fulfil this role perfectly well.

Finally, European institutions will not rise in the public esteem through a multitude of regulations, directives and so on, but rather by acting transparently to benefit the people and strengthen the idea of Europe.


  Marie-Line Reynaud (PSE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. (FR) Madam President, I wish to thank Mr Gargani for the clarity and commitment of his report. I am delighted that a large part of my opinion has been included and that his report took up my own two objectives, which are, first of all, the emphasis given to the fact that simplification is necessary but must not be achieved in any old fashion, and secondly, the affirmation of Parliament’s wish to participate fully in the simplification strategy. We can only welcome any initiative that aims to make the regulatory environment clearer and more coherent.

It is, in fact, impossible to continue working properly with an acquis of more than 80 000 pages. How, in these circumstances, can we talk to the citizens about accessibility and transparency with any credibility? That is why the simplification strategy must be supported in principle. It should enable us, in the long run, to have Community and national standards that are easier to apply and less costly. This simplification, however, also entails a number of limitations, indeed dangers, and we therefore need to be vigilant. In particular, this report specifies that simplification must not take the form of a lowering of standards, that there are problems linked to the application of the Interinstitutional Agreement governing the recasting procedure and that it is therefore necessary to clarify the applicable rules in order to avoid conflicts of competence and procedural obstacles. This report also clearly affirms Parliament’s desire to fully participate in the simplification strategy and it puts the same emphasis on the need to protect Parliament’s prerogatives as on the question of the adaptation of its rules of procedure. Simplification cannot, in fact, take place outside of all democratic control and, in particular, outside the control of Parliament.

Parliament must also give thought, within the context of simplification, to the improvement of its procedures and its internal legislative techniques. This issue will be the subject of a specific report that I am responsible for drafting. Finally, on the subject of alternative means of regulation, I am very pleased that this report demands a strict framework for recourse to coregulation and self-regulation, because it is essential to provide safeguards in this area.


  Diana Wallis (ALDE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Petitions. Madam President, directives and regulations all make up the law that is perhaps the main thing that our citizens see or feel as a result of our activities. Law is, as it were, our main product. But lawmaking, especially at a European level, is a process – a lengthy process – not an end point. This continuum is well represented by the various reports that we are discussing today. There are the Doorn and the Frassoni reports, one focusing on lawmaking and subsidiarity, the other on monitoring the application of the law. But our citizens should be at the beginning, the end and at the heart of this process, helping us set the agenda, lobbying and informing us as we make decisions and overseeing how the results work.

The Doorn report has a special focus on the use of impact assessments. This is really welcome. But we have to take care. Impact assessment cannot displace political decision making. Of course, we need full and independent information from all sides on all aspects, not just the effects on business. Then we as co-legislators can decide, but it must be our decision, not that of experts, nor of technocrats, stakeholders or lobbyists. Give us all the information in a balanced manner, then, in full transparency, we can make a political decision for which we are accountable. No number of impact assessments or re-impact assessments should replace democracy.

Let me turn to one of the main preoccupations of the Committee on Petitions. It is perhaps the committee in this House that is most in touch with our citizens. They come to us when the law is not working. The job of the Petitions Committee is to help citizens highlight the problems with implementation and monitoring of EU law. This work should be given a much higher profile and recognition, especially in the Commission’s annual report. For the umpteenth time, the Petitions Committee has emphasised the need for the Commission’s infringement proceedings to be more robust and we welcome, therefore, the proposals made by Mrs Frassoni in this respect. I was also pleased to hear the comments on implementation made by President Barroso.

We have also underlined the place of our citizens in the lawmaking process. Many of us would like to see them have a role in initiating law, as foreseen by the European citizens’ initiative in the draft Constitutional Treaty; but sadly, probably, this is a matter for another day. But we could at least ensure that our citizens understand what we are doing in their name. There seems to be broad support for the proposition that each directive and regulation should be prefaced by a non-legally binding citizens’ summary. In short, let us have legislation that is accessible in its form, the way we make it and the way we enforce it.


  Malcolm Harbour, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. Madam President, I particularly want to welcome all the reports. As coordinator of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, I particularly would like to commend Mrs McCarthy on the excellent work she has done, as well as our committee, which held a hearing on this topic.

One of the lessons we must learn from this exercise – and I say this to the select group of colleagues around here – is that better regulation is a shared task for every single Member of this Parliament, whatever committee they belong to. It is good that we are broadening out the discussion, but too few people are engaged.

The major point I wish to make tonight, linked to the amendments I made to Mrs McCarthy’s report, which were accepted by the committee, is that better regulation is a process. I agree with much of what Mrs Wallis says. The problem is that the process is difficult, complex and very few people understand it. We have to try to explain and simplify it, but we need to explain it to our own constituencies as well as to people outside. How many people in this Parliament can really say that they understand the procedures that have now been set up within the Commission to improve the quality of legislation? How many of you know what your responsibilities are under the famous interinstitutional agreement, which was signed in this very Chamber two years ago by our then President, Pat Cox? I suspect that if we had a questionnaire about it, most of you would have no idea what those obligations are.

Surely the first thing, colleagues, is that we should be putting our own House in order; that each of us should have that simplified checklist. We should say, when the Commission sends us a proposal – and this again is a recommendation – that with each proposal there should be just a short checklist about the procedures that the Commission has already gone through and the ones that it will go through in future. If there are documents and impact assessments, they should be clearly attached to that.

That is the sort of practical definition and clarification of the process that we need. If we do not do that, citizens outside will lose belief in the process. The better legislation process is vital for the future of the whole way we do business here.


  Maria Berger, on behalf of the PSE Group. – (DE) Madam President, Mr President of the Commission, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, I want to extend very warm thanks to all the rapporteurs and to those who have drafted opinions, not least for having agreed to us having this joint debate on them here today.

This joint debate makes it possible for us to see all the aspects that we have to debate today under the headings of ‘better regulation’ or ‘better lawmaking’. I have to admit that it is getting harder and harder for me to get any overview of this debate. There is often nothing visible behind the well-intentioned forms of words that we hear, and with which we are already familiar. I also sometimes suspect that this debate on better lawmaking is intended to distract us from our real functions as legislators and to serve as a pretext for inaction on the part of those who legislate for the Community or for better regulation meaning deregulation.

The whole thing has now got so baffling that one is tempted to call for a process of ‘better regulation of the better regulation process’ or for the impact of the impact assessment to be assessed. I am grateful to the rapporteurs for having worked out some very definite measures, albeit in amidst all this fog, particularly to Mrs Frassoni for her report with its concrete proposals for improved monitoring of the process of transposing Community law, for speedier infringement proceedings and greater transparency for those citizens who bring complaints.

After all, it is not acceptable that members of the public should bring a complaint, or that the Commission should commence infringement proceedings, and then see the proceedings suddenly halted without the public being given any real information as to why this has happened. This often puts them in a worse position in pending cases at national level, and so rather more transparency is called for here.

Above all, I welcome the proposals that Mr Doorn has put together, especially those relating to impact assessment. We agree with him that the impact of acts of comitology needs to be assessed too, and with the idea that the impact assessment should be subject to independent review – independent, that is, of the relevant Directorate-General, but not necessarily conducted outside the Commission. The Commission has its political responsibility, and should not be required to surrender it; indeed, in this specific instance, it has no intention of really doing so.

We do not agree with Mr Doorn, though, on the question of mandatory impact assessments for amendments proposed in this House and in the Council. I do not think that we, as legislators, should, in this respect, allow ourselves to be shackled and silenced. A good impact assessment carried out by the Commission will also make it possible to gauge the effects of amendments, and there is also to hand the voluntary application of the impact assessment, of which – as we have heard – the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection has already availed itself, and that is something that should be discussed by the other committees too.

What is true of better regulation is true of all other good intentions and of all the good things in this life: it is no good unless something is actually done about it, rather than it just being talked about.


  Elizabeth Lynne, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Madam President, I have been campaigning for many years for better lawmaking, particularly in my committee, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. We need better and more comprehensive impact assessment and we need to look at whether legislation is really needed at EU level, or best left up to Member States in many instances. If it is needed, we need to have a proper cost-benefit analysis of businesses, including small businesses, and the workforce alike. I would like to see the impact assessments being truly independent, better than what we have quite often at the moment: a justification for the need for legislation.

Once legislation has been passed, it has to be implemented equally, as we have all been saying, across all Member States. If it is not being implemented, is it because it is unworkable? If it is unworkable, then, as the Commission has said, repeal it.

Finally, we need to make sure the interinstitutional agreement on better lawmaking is complied with. In a reply just the other day, the Commission admitted that little progress had been made.


  Monica Frassoni, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, first of all I should like to tell Mr Barroso that what was decided today on energy shows that where there is a will there is a way, and so it is our ‘will’ that you find a ‘way’ in a greater number of cases, particularly in the areas of environmental, consumer and health policies. That, however, is an obvious message.

Mr Winkler, I was sorry to notice that you did not say a word on the subject of the implementation of the law, even though this subject concerns the Member States most of all. I also believe it would be interesting to hear the Council’s views on the possibility of reopening the talks on the part of the better regulation agreement dealing with the implementation of the law, which failed miserably before.

In addition, on the matter of impact assessments, I do not hide my concerns, since this topic is becoming a kind of myth, a magic formula that in itself ought to make legislation better by basing it on scientific, impartial sources. I personally am sceptical on this point. Indeed, I am concerned that this topic is taking on too much importance, primarily because some of the proposals contained in the reports – particularly Mrs McCarthy’s but not only hers – introduce some bureaucratic elements that would be really complicated to administer, above all for the Commission. That seed of doubt has made my group realise how lucky we are that we have postponed the vote, because that will give us a chance to review the situation in order to reach an agreement.

In addition, those items that everyone is talking about that have been considered crucial in an impact assessment, including administrative costs, too much red tape and excessive costs for businesses, whether real or presumed, are in themselves a political choice. I shall give you an example, Mr Barroso and Mr Verheugen: a letter from UNICE was all it took to drastically cut back the air quality strategy, despite a EUR 2 million impact assessment that said that the costs to consider were not only the costs to businesses but also the costs to people’s health. In the end, therefore, even impact assessments are political choices, and as a result I would ask you not to make them such a priority and so completely overstated compared with the other aspects of the law.

I wish to say a final word about the issue of co-regulation and self-regulation. I should like the Commission to carry out a study to determine how well these procedures have worked because, according to our studies, they have not worked properly. The ability of businesses and companies to comply with these self-regulation agreements has been considered rather unsatisfactory by the companies themselves.


  Erik Meijer, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (NL) Madam President, it is extremely lamentable that there seems to be only one leitmotiv running through the discussion on subsidiarity and better lawmaking, namely increased economic growth and more competition by means of fewer rules and regulations. This creates the illusion that, particularly in the regulatory environment, more attention should be paid to subsidiarity in areas such as social protection, the environment and consumer protection. All of this fits into the neo-liberal way of thinking that fewer rules and regulations are, by definition, a good thing.

Reality, however, shows us that it is those very same European rules on the hallowed internal market that make life difficult for the European citizens. For example, it is those rules that require a small municipality in the north of the Netherlands to ask for permission from the European Commission before it can install a glass-fibre cable network for its own citizens, or that consider government support of the City of Amsterdam to the local zoo to be distortion of competition. No wonder the people of the Netherlands, having lost all faith in a further extension of Brussels powers and in the proposed Constitution which approved and backed this process, proceeded, by an overwhelming majority, to consign that document to the waste paper basket.

Reality is that subsidiarity has been an empty concept for a long time. European institutions, headed by this House, rarely, if ever, question whether European interference in a certain area actually makes a positive contribution to the wellbeing of people and the environment. On the contrary; a steady stream of European rules and regulations continues to undermine the authority of national and regional governments. One example I would give of that is the European services directive, which, even in its amended form, will seriously erode the autonomy of municipal authorities in the area of licences or the local provision of services.

In a nutshell, whilst a discussion on the quality and subsidiarity of European legislation is to be welcomed, it is totally naïve to assume that by scrapping a handful of rules or carrying out impact assessments, the fundamental problems of interference from Brussels can be solved. For this to happen, the internal market rules will, in the first instance, need to be completely overhauled.


  Brian Crowley, on behalf of the UEN Group. Madam President, I should like to thank the President of the Commission and the President-in-Office of the Council, as well as our rapporteurs, for the mood they have set with regard to this debate today.

Obviously there are problems within our lawmaking process; there are difficulties which we can all recognise and see in our everyday working lives. One of the things that is most clearly and importantly needed is the codification and simplification of the existing body of law – the acquis communautaire – not only to ensure that businesses can operate more freely or properly across the internal market, but also to guarantee that individuals recognise where their rights are protected; that there are clear and defined rules to ensure that big business cannot overrun the rights of workers; that consumers cannot be trodden under foot because of decisions taken by financial institutions or whatever else. That is why for many years we in Parliament have been attempting to put in place this idea of impact assessment with regard to all legislation, to test it before it becomes law, to see its necessity and to understand fully what its impact will be when it is eventually transposed into law.

However, when you look at the whole question of lawmaking, the biggest difficulties and the biggest culprits are found at Member State level in transposition of agreed European law. This is where governments have already been represented at the decision-making process, where Parliament and the Commission have been involved, but when it comes to transposition there is a difficulty because of a local domestic political dispute or because of a fear of a backlash in that political area.

I think it would be wrong for the Commission to portray itself purely in the guise of the terrible enforcer against the Member States, because sometimes there are mistakes and errors within the legislation which must be corrected, and flexibility is required to achieve this.

My last point is that, in setting up any working groups or expert groups concerning better lawmaking, it is essential to get the practitioners of politics involved – not just technocrats or parliamentary draftsmen, but politicians themselves who can understand how this must be sold to the public and enforced at a local level.


  Jens-Peter Bonde, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. (DA) Madam President, at present it is only selected specialists who can read EU laws and work out the state of the law in a particular area. Every shepherd has to keep track of every sheep, but no EU institution knows precisely how many laws we have. We have laid down something like 20 000 rules filling more than 100 000 pages. The state of the law governing, for example, the fisheries area is to be sought in more than 70 different regulations. Why not combine all the rules governing the same subject in one simple act? In that way, citizens themselves will be able to see and read the resultant act, which is the first precondition for their having influence.

Bold type can be used to draw attention to proposed amendments, and words that are to be deleted can be written in italics. In that way, everyone will be able to see what the aim of the proposal is. We shall also adopt the democratic principle from our own constitutions, namely that, in future, it will not be possible to adopt any EU law without its having been decided on here in the European Parliament. Under these arrangements, EU laws would be able to authorise the issue of notifications, but any such instrument could be reconsidered on the basis of a straightforward majority in the Council and Parliament.

All committee procedures in which a minority combines with the Commission to legislate against the majority in the national parliaments and the European Parliament should also be abolished. It is absurd that the Commission should have been able to approve genetically modified cornflakes when, their citizens having discovered what had really been decided behind closed doors, 14 out of 15 countries were opposed to such approval and country number 15 also came out in opposition. If legislation in its entirety is opened up to the citizens, we shall also obtain better laws.


  Marek Aleksander Czarnecki (NI). – (PL) Madam President, the European Commission monitors application of Community law on a yearly basis. At present we are debating the Commission’s 21st and 22nd annual reports. In order to appreciate the scale of the problem, it should be pointed out that some four thousand infringement proceedings are involved. A so-called reasoned opinion has been issued for almost one thousand of these, and over 400 have been referred to the Court of Justice.

It is a matter of regret that the Commission was late in submitting the 22nd annual report. This was only received in January 2006 and consequently Parliament was only able to refer to part of the Commission’s information for 2004 in its resolution. Paradoxically, it could be said that the more complaints, the better. This is because the complaints indicate that citizens of the Member States are playing an important role in the monitoring process and thus also in Union lawmaking. The citizens’ complaints are not symbolic in nature. They are part of the process of building a citizens’ Europe and in general they are an effective way of monitoring the application of Community law.

The European Parliament’s committees should monitor the implementation of Community law closely, particularly in situations where the relevant rapporteur is required to participate actively in monitoring the application of a particular legal provision in individual Member States and also, naturally, when it comes to calling for immediate action should any infringements be noted.

The efficiency of the process should be improved by abbreviating the internal procedure, as was rightly included in the draft European Parliament resolution. It would also be appropriate to authorise individual Commissioners to exercise direct control over the transposition of Community provisions into national law within the stated periods of time. This could be achieved by authorising Commissioners to address requests for dealing with infringements within their particular sphere of competence directly to Member States.


  Hans Winkler, President-in-Office of the Council. – (DE) Madam President, your helping me to make a very practical contribution to better lawmaking by being privileged to meet with the Conference of Presidents and have very in-depth discussions with them about legal acts is very definitely relevant to this debate. I am in any case grateful for your understanding.

I would like to say something, very briefly, about one or two of the issues that have been touched on in this debate. A very large number of speakers had something to say about the comitology issue. We have a saying in Austria to the effect that one should not cluck over eggs that have not yet been laid, but, under the Austrian Presidency, we have returned to the comitology issue with a great deal of commitment. We have already had two rounds of very detailed negotiation with your House’s appointed representatives, the latter of which took place a couple of hours ago. After a number of years, I believe we are now on the right track towards finding a solution with which both the Council and Parliament can be satisfied.

Whatever emerges will in any case be an improvement on the current situation, since it goes without saying that Parliament will have a say in those legislative acts that are adopted through the codecision procedure with its agreement and that of the Council. We are not far away from a solution, and I hope that we will arrive at finally sorting this out by the end of this period of six months. That will help improve our lawmaking processes.

Mrs Frassoni was, of course, quite right in what she had to say about the implementation of the law and its importance. This is a matter for the Member States rather than for the Council as such – on behalf of which I am of course speaking – but the individual Member States are of course endeavouring, in their discussions with the Commission, to find better ways of ensuring that the law is applied. We too – by which I mean ‘we Austrians’ – are of course just as much affected by this as any other Member State; infringement procedures have the same effect on us as on any of them. Speaking as a lawyer, I can say that every law does of course need machinery whereby it can be put into effect; that is important, and we are also endeavouring to pay more attention to the Commission and to find better ways of enforcing and applying the law.

The fact that what I said about this was not said in the name of the Council does not of course mean that the application and enforcement of the law are any less important than the legislative process itself.

The question of legislation and of the review of legislative acts already adopted is of course at the forefront of the Council’s considerations.


  Alexander Stubb (PPE-DE). – Madam President, I cannot help it, but when I see the name Winkler up there, I immediately think about Henry Winkler: remember the guy who was Fonzie in Happy Days? It is good to have an Austrian Minister as Fonzie, giving the thumbs up to better regulation!

We have three linked issues in this plenary session. The first, which we dealt with yesterday, was to do with transparency and the openness of the Council; the second is this debate on better regulation and legislation, and the last one we have this evening is on citizenship. I support all those initiatives; I think they are great; I think the work that the Secretary-General is doing in the Commission under Mr Ponzano is extremely good and I would like to recommend all four reports that have been put on the table today.

Having said that and given that we are talking about better regulation, when I started going through the reports, I got a bit uneasy. I will just read you the language. I think there is a communication problem here. Mrs Frassoni drew up a great report, but paragraph 18, ‘Notes that the SOLVIT network has proved its effectiveness in the internal market as a complementary non-judicial mechanism which has increased voluntary cooperation among Member States ...’. It is all true, but if you are sitting up there trying to listen to this, you are not necessarily going to understand what it means. Mr Doorn, on better lawmaking, at paragraph 5, ‘is of the opinion that the Lamfalussy procedure is a useful mechanism; regards the convergence of supervisory practices as crucial; welcomes the work of the Level 3 committees in this respect and supports the call for an adequate toolbox;’ – great. Then, the McCarthy report – which I think is the clearest one – states in paragraph 6, ‘requests that the Commission carry out both ex-ante and ex-post impact assessments on legislation to assist in identifying whether key policy objectives have been met ...’, and the Gargani report has exactly the same. What I am trying to say is that we need better regulation, better lawmaking, but it is to do with simplification and us understanding what we are deciding on and people understanding what we are trying to decide on. That is what better regulation is all about; therefore, we need to use better language. I cannot imagine how that sounded through the Finnish interpretation!

(Laughter and applause)


  Béatrice Patrie (PSE). – (FR) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, under the guise of a technical debate, there is hidden here a debate of great political importance. We need better lawmaking, of course, but without deregulation and without sidelining the legislator itself. In this regard, I wish to express my very strong reservations about certain mechanisms, including alternative regulatory mechanisms such as regulation and self-regulation. They have their place but, in the interest of the citizens and of consumers, I believe that they must not, under any circumstances, take the place of the law, which confers rights but also duties and therefore constitutes the most legitimate democratic tool.

As regards consultation prior to the legislative process, I call on the three institutions to organise, alongside the economic operators, the actual participation of the social partners and of civil society in all its diversity. It is, in fact, the responsibility of the public authorities to support the organisation of these players - consumer associations, public service users, associations fighting against exclusion or community education associations – throughout Europe.

Finally, I should like to comment on the simplification rolling programme that is supposed to facilitate the Lisbon Strategy. I am surprised that it includes as its main principle the recasting of the regulation on organic farming, when even the producers in this sector are not asking for that, and that proposals as important as those on the status of the mutual benefit associations and of the European Association have, at the same time, been withdrawn from the legislative programme.


  Frédérique Ries (ALDE). – (FR) Madam President, I quite agree here with those who think that a slimming diet would be good for the Europe of regulation, a Europe that is fussy about principles and, sadly, more lax about the monitoring of the transposition and proper application of our legislation.

This much is clear: ten years after the launch of the SLIM programme, and despite the signing, two years ago, of the ‘Better lawmaking’ interinstitutional agreement, there is still a long way to go. We have still not curbed the Union’s appetite for legislation. I am therefore delighted that the Commission is now proposing to us this balanced diet: three conditions to ensure that this agenda functions, strengthens the Union and brings it closer to Europeans. It has been said that Europe should make laws only when it can do better than other levels of authority. As we have just heard Mr Stubb say, from the Canaries to Scandinavia, by way of Brussels, we must avoid once and for all using European jargon, and we must speak and write laws in the language that is most easily understood by all those for whom it is intended. There are many more examples.

Thirdly, this slimming diet that we want and that the SMEs, in particular, also want is not a casual, non-interventionist diet. It must be stressed - and here I shall conclude, Madam President - that better regulation does not mean lack of ambition. I agree with Mrs Frassoni: it is REACH, for example, that I am thinking of in highlighting this last point.


  Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I congratulate all our rapporteurs in undertaking this gargantuan effort today and shall focus briefly on two points: Council transparency and Mr Doorn’s report on subsidiarity.

As we heard yesterday, a lack of Council transparency remains the elephant in the room; it remains the root cause of so much discontent with EU lawmaking in general. Surely the Council can take more steps towards meaningfully meeting in public. Right now only Havana and Pyong Yang operate in such an opaque fashion. We should be doing better than that in the 21st century.

More substantively, turning to subsidiarity and especially paragraphs 25-29 of Mr Doorn’s report, I give my own country, Scotland, as an example of the missed opportunity that subsidiarity currently represents. Scotland is currently part of a Member State not known for its enthusiastic EU engagement and yet our parliament in Edinburgh would represent an enthusiastic partner in better EU lawmaking. Our parliament has total responsibility for health, the environment, justice, education, fishing, agriculture and many more areas, yet the EU view of subsidiarity too often stops at the Member State when, in fact, the more relevant partner may well be much more local.

I would associate myself with all of Mr Doorn’s recommendations on impact assessments, although I echo Mrs Wallis’ comments on political engagement and stress that such engagement must be as local as possible. Then perhaps we will see subsidiarity starting to work for the betterment of EU legislation in the future.


  Jonas Sjöstedt (GUE/NGL). – (SV) Madam President, I do not think that this debate can be reduced to a debate on the quality of legislation. The actual quantity of EU legislation must also be debated. The fact is that the number of EU laws has risen dramatically in recent years, and the EU is now legislating in a host of new areas. At the same time, it is extremely unusual for the EU to give its right of decision-making back to Member States or to repeal legislation. The combination of a very large quantity of legislation and the deficient quality of such legislation makes for a lack of clarity and makes it difficult to implement legislation in practice.

Where quality is concerned, there is a lot that can now already be done, and the reports contain proposals for doing these things. Out-of-date legislation can be repealed. Other legislation can be simplified, and some can be merged and consolidated. All that is fine, but another way of approaching legislative work is also required. In determining the direction to be taken by legislation, we need to focus more on objectives and less on detail, and we need to give the Member States greater freedom to choose how they are to pursue the objectives set.

Impact analyses are fine, but it is not always so easy to measure what we want to measure. More often than not, it is simpler to measure straightforward economic factors than, for example, environmental factors. We had this debate in connection with the debate on the chemicals policy, REACH. It was easy to measure a company’s costs, but difficult to measure the huge benefits in terms of public health and reduced human suffering of there being fewer diseases. This means that there is a need to be rather careful in this area.

If there is a real desire to simplify matters, the number of EU laws must be reduced, and the area that is absolutely the most overregulated is agricultural policy, where most matters could be returned to Member State level and thousands of laws could be abolished. A number of speakers refer to the European Constitution. The fact is, it would have made these problems worse by increasing the EU’s power and making it easier for the EU to appropriate new legislative powers and to be able to legislate in areas in which it really ought not to get involved. We should therefore thank the Dutch and French voters now as well.


  Konrad Szymański (UEN). – (PL) Madam President, a legislator’s skill is demonstrated not only by the ability to make sound laws, but also by the ability to refrain from regulating where no regulation is needed. Accordingly, the statements in the report on broadening and tightening the principles for assessment of the cost and impact of legislation deserve strong support.

There is a reference in the report to the negative impact of political compromises on the development of European law. The directive on services is a case in point. Each of the two sides of the debate maintains that it has won the day. For the Socialists, Mrs Gebhardt claims she turned the directive upside down, whilst for the Conservatives Mr Harbour rejoices that an excellent compromise has been reached.

Who is mistaken? Perhaps nobody is? We may well have come up with a document consisting of dozens of contradictory provisions, in the hope that it will contain something for everyone. It amounts to feel-good therapy for the Member States, the Union as a whole and also for this House. We are, however, salving our consciences at the expense of the citizens, the entrepreneurs and the quality of our laws.


  Johannes Blokland (IND/DEM). – (NL) Madam President, further to the reports on better lawmaking that are the subject of today’s discussion, I should like to make a few observations about the role of impact assessments. I gather from Mr Doorn that he is in favour of a random test being carried out by a panel of authoritative experts. I wholeheartedly support the idea behind it. Like him, I call for a truly independent committee, one that is not made up of representatives of the three institutions.

We have examples of this in the Netherlands, in the shape of the committee that monitors the environmental impact reports. If you have had a few bruising encounters with such a panel, then you are bound to clean up your act the next time. I would also like to add that legislation is always a learning process, but the explicit description of it as such in Recital J of the Doorn report is, in my view, far too negative. We do what we can to adopt sound legislation. We are bound to get it wrong the odd time, but to see this as an objective from the outset strikes me as taking things too far.


  Bruno Gollnisch (NI). – (FR) Madam President, you are an eminent specialist on the ancient Japan of the Tokugawa era, during which people were deliberately kept in ignorance of laws deemed to be state secrets, knowledge of which was restricted to a small number of great lords, because it was thought that in this way people would retain far greater respect for standards about which they knew nothing. Well, I sometimes wonder whether we do not, in fact, draw our inspiration from this ancient Japanese legislation.

In reality, ladies and gentlemen, I think that the complexity of European law is the perverse effect of a group dynamic to which we are all party. What is it all about? Firstly, the initiative rests with the Commission, but behind every Commissioner, there is, of course, the general management and the officials who are part of it. Next, it passes to the Council. In theory, the Council is composed of ministers. They reach agreement on a text, provided that each of their respective bureaucracies recognises in it all of the standards that are to feature in the joint text, then the text is passed to Parliament and Parliament appoints a rapporteur. Naturally, the rapporteur, as is perfectly legitimate, wants his name to go down in history. His name is much more likely to be remembered if he adds standards rather than removes them, and that is without mentioning the Members who table amendments, the important role of lobbies and so on. Thus it is, ladies and gentlemen, that we arrive at a real regulatory monster.

I have been in this Parliament for 17 years and, right from the very first year of my taking up my seat here, there was already a debate being held on the simplification of European Community law. I have the impression that we are no farther forward with this than we were 17 years ago, the only difference being that the situation has got even worse.

What is to be done then? We have to agree on the meaning of the terms used. We need a proper dictionary of Community law, a code like the Civil Code, or the Commercial Code or the Penal Code, which is organised rationally and divided into parts, sub-parts, chapters, sections and articles, in such a way that, when we are working on a text, we know in advance that we are going to amend such and such an article. In short, we need to make a great effort towards simplification. I fear that, despite the good intentions expressed by the rapporteurs, we are not quite there yet. Thank you.


  Andreas Schwab (PPE-DE).(DE) Madam President, Commissioner Verheugen, I should like to start by taking this opportunity to thank all four rapporteurs for their constructive work on this issue, which is not only preoccupying pub regulars, but increasingly politicians, too.

What I found particularly refreshing about this debate was the speech by Mr Gollnisch, in which he made a truly impassioned plea for the establishment of the European Constitution, something which we obviously have in common – I was previously unaware of this. Indeed, I also believe that, with the European Constitution, we would be in a very much better position in the field of normative lawmaking than is presently the case. I am glad that we are pulling together on this.

I believe that we should always bear in mind with regard to better lawmaking that the aim of all these reports on the subject is not, of course, to improve the familiarity of the individual citizen with the legal texts, but to provide Member States with a simple text to help with transposition. Therefore, we need to keep our objective clearly in mind when faced with these challenges.

Naturally, in this particular context – and I do not mean to be ironic in any way when I say that I have to expressly agree with the previous speaker for once on this particular point – we complain that our legislative process is not at all transparent in the field of comitology. This legislative process has been criticised in this House from time to time.

For this reason, I am convinced that we need external scrutiny of European legislation, and that this cannot just be carried out by the Commission itself. The question arises whether this could be carried out by an agency – and you are all aware of our reservations about the creation of further agencies: ‘no increase in bureaucracy to reduce bureaucracy’ – or by other external authorities. At all events, Parliament should be involved in choosing these external authorities.

Therefore, the four reports we are discussing today also provide an excellent starting point for arriving at a common position between Parliament and the Commission, and possibly even the Council, on this issue.


  Andrzej Jan Szejna (PSE). – (PL) Madam President, better lawmaking in the European Union calls for sound provisions formulated more transparently, and also for swifter and more effective implementation and application of such provisions. There are still too many instances of incorrect implementation of Community law. This is partly due to the poor quality of the provisions and partly to deliberate action by the Member States, intent on undermining Community legislation for political, economic or administrative reasons.

In addition, the national courts in many Member States are still reluctant to implement the principle of the primacy of Community legislation. If Union legislation is not deemed to be binding on all, and its transposition and implementation depend entirely on a government’s good will, the outcome could be the objective renationalisation of Community policy, as Mrs Frassoni rightly highlights in her report. Clearly, this would be very detrimental to the internal market and to the entire acquis.

Lack of uniformity of transposition may also lead to incorrect implementation of Union legislation should different provisions be implemented in different countries, thus undermining the Union’s credibility. If we are not capable of bringing pressure to bear upon the governments of Member States to transpose Union legislation correctly, we cannot expect people to believe that Union institutions such as the Commission, the Council or the European Parliament will effectively defend citizens’ rights derived from Union law.


  Karin Riis-Jørgensen (ALDE). – (DA) Madam President, the European Parliament must be the standard bearer for better legislation. The European Parliament’s work must be transparent and clearly formulated, and we must, in particular, remove the administrative barriers in European legislation. I therefore call on Parliament's leadership to ensure that our legislative work is better coordinated so that we do not again end up in a situation in which the committees propose amendments that contradict each other. At the same time, we must prioritise legal certainty and predictability for our citizens and not let the authorities or the European Court of Justice have too much discretion.

The President of the European Council - the Austrian Chancellor – has attacked the European Court of Justice for arrogating too much power to itself. However, the Court is merely doing its job, because we legislators are not doing our own sufficiently well.

I am, unfortunately, afraid that, with the Services Directive, we are in the process of repeating previous errors and that we are letting the European Court of Justice have too much scope for interpretation. This is an area in which we must all do better at second reading.


  Zita Pleštinská (PPE-DE). (SK) In my meetings with internal market stakeholders I have often faced criticism over current European legislation. Poorly drafted legislation often makes it difficult to transpose drafts into the legal systems of the states concerned. Participants in the public hearing on this matter, including Commissioner Verheugen, have confirmed that textual ambiguity often causes legal uncertainty or, alternatively, distorts competition and fragments the internal market, weakening the ability of consumers and enterprises to make full use of its benefits.

I therefore welcome the recommendations of the rapporteur, Mrs McCarthy, for the Commission to continue consolidating, simplifying and codifying Community legislation in order to make it easier to understand. It goes without saying that the rule should apply that improvements in legislation must not weaken environmental, social or consumer standards. Based on my experience from drafting the report on financing European standardisation, I fully agree with the rapporteur that only good, clear and, above all, simple laws on the internal market will benefit citizens, consumers and enterprises, helping the European Union to strengthen its position with regard to competitors in the global economy.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am convinced that better regulations will provide a basis for efforts by European institutions to create jobs and generate growth in the European Union under the revised Lisbon Strategy. In conclusion, I would like to thank the four rapporteurs for establishing a new architecture of better legislation for a Europe that is closer to its citizens.


  Manuel Medina Ortega (PSE). – (ES) Madam President, there was a time when laws were made by gods; gods made perfect laws. Then the gods became tired and men began to make laws, and laws are now imperfect. At the moment, therefore, whether a law is good or bad is decided by nobody but ourselves, the only criterion for judging whether a law is good or bad is democracy, the criterion of the majority, because, as Rousseau said, ‘it is reasonable for the majority to decide, rather than the minority'.

Having established this principle in the modern democracies, democracy is representative and it is the parliaments that legislate; they can make mistakes, but the only criterion for legitimacy is the parliamentary majority. On this basis, I believe that the greatest danger to democracy at the moment is the technocracy associated with economic interests — what is known as self-regulation or co-regulation — which is a way to put general interests into the hands of the individual interests of the few, and that is something we should remember.

I myself, having been elected to many terms in office, would not be prepared to renounce my legislative responsibilities in favour of sub-contracting and in favour of technocratic interests.


  Zuzana Roithová (PPE-DE). – (CS) Ladies and gentlemen, I realise that the new approach to European regulation requires changes in thinking, and possibly even changes to agreements. If we wish, however, to retain the public’s faith in the single market, we must stem the outflow of investment and the loss of jobs. This means that we must not only reduce and simplify legislation, but we must also, in my opinion, reconsider the original aims of both European and national regulation. This is a serious political challenge. It is also up to us, ladies and gentlemen, to demand that every single measure, whether aimed at, for example, protecting health or the environment, is subjected to an impact assessment. Mrs McCarthy is requesting this in the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. I would add that it must be made clear what costs will be borne by European producers, by how much public finances will be increased or depleted and what will be the effect on unemployment in our regions. In particular we should know in advance how regulations aimed at improving standards will affect the competitiveness of European products vis-à-vis third countries, so as to ensure that the main outcome is not the further migration of plant and capital away from Europe.

Better regulation also means that, in the context of costs, we will investigate seriously whether the new measures might really improve the health or social conditions of our citizens, or whether this is merely an unfounded assumption. Both as a doctor and as a politician I do not like it that so many European and national regulations are merely populist gestures. Against that, I have no clear ideas on how to protect consumers against the harmful or counterfeit products from third countries that are displacing quality European products. An example of this might be the children’s footwear from Asia that has orthopaedic defects. The only solution to this would be a mandatory new health certificate for children’s footwear, which would also be better regulation for the public.

I am sorry that the Commission is being so slow to codify consumer protection and the protection of intellectual property. Never before has the standard of European regulation been as important as it is today, when the Union faces serious competition from third countries. The political aim of today’s regulation is to safeguard both fair competition and the European consumer – not only inside but also outside Europe – and also to motivate the creativity of our citizens while ridding them of ineffective regulation.


  Maria Matsouka (PSE).(EL) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, better Community lawmaking means assessing and defining the endeavour with regard to its technical side.

The complexity of national administrations, the limited facility for transposition and, often, the lack of will exacerbate things. Sanctions by the Union itself would appear here to be the most effective measure. Nonetheless, the wager for the proper application of Community legislation is the shaping of political and, above all, social will. The proper application of Community legislation is a procedure which would allow Europe in the medium term to reduce its inertia and become more competitive in the international globalised environment, for the benefit of citizens, consumers and companies.

We need rules which are clear, integral and comprehensible. Such texts, of course, presuppose clearer agreements between their authors. It is very important to simplify and rationalise the legislative corpus. It would be even more preferable for laws respecting the principles of transparency, proportionality and consistency to regulate the basic points of a sector and make provision for implementing measures which also relate to the technical details.

As for the effectiveness of the arrangements, it is important to assess the costs and benefits of application. Social dialogue is therefore needed with the agencies involved, which will thus be in a position to act as joint legislators.

As regards major political proposals in particular, this is the only way for us to win the confidence of the citizens. A good law is not a labyrinthine law with strict procedures, it is a law which is convenient for citizens and, at the same time, makes them jointly responsible for its application.


  Klaus-Heiner Lehne (PPE-DE).(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I have the impression that this debate has made it clear that the problem at the heart of our discussion here is regulatory impact assessments. In my opinion, it has absolutely nothing to do with democracy being replaced with technocracy. That is not what this is about. It goes without saying that the democratic institutions are still in control. The Commission makes decisions on proposals on its own responsibility, as, of course, do Parliament and the Council.

This matter hinges on a vital point, namely that we are changing the procedures governing our support. Currently, the EU makes legislation on the basis of ‘learning by doing’. We decide on something, and something comes out of it in the end that has some effect or other. If we subsequently discover that the effect is undesirable, we have the problem that, thanks to the EU’s complex procedures, we cannot just quickly amend these laws, as national parliaments do, but need a complex procedure lasting many years to revise directives and amend regulations. Thus, different mechanisms are needed from those often existing at national level.

We need to know what we are doing. What regulatory impact assessments do is give us support; we are informed of the consequences our actions will have by independent people, too. Even though, ultimately, the political decision remains ours to take, we still need this support. That is quite crucial when the Commission, the Council and Parliament have to take decisions on behalf of 470 million people in such a large economic area. For that reason, too, it is vital to have an independent element.

I would appeal quite clearly once more to the Commission to work to ensure the introduction of this independent element within its own structures, too. If it does not, Parliament – if it takes itself seriously – will be forced to conduct its own independent impact assessments in each case. That is contrary to the spirit of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2003. We should like the Commission to do this on its own initiative, so that we have sound bases for decision.


  Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the Commission. – (DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to try once more to explain what this is all about, and what it is not about. It is not about less legislation, nor about worse legislation. It is not about deregulation, nor about neoliberal free-market radicalism. It is purely and simply about shaping the European legal system such as to make it understandable to the public, and such that the European economy can use it for growth, investment and job creation. It is really the simplest thing in the world, and I am astonished time and again at the kind of motives being attributed to such a clear, unambiguous concept.

Whether or not we believe that we have too many European laws or that these may not always be good enough is irrelevant. We are not talking about a matter of belief, but about an alarmingly large proportion of the European public being convinced that that is the case. We are talking about European entrepreneurs and trade unions unanimously saying that that is the case. Too much bureaucracy, too many laws, overly complicated laws, too many unnecessary restrictions. It does not matter if this is really the case; what matters is that those for whom we make the laws are convinced that it is. That is why we had to do something.

The ‘better lawmaking’ exercise proposed by the Commission uses all the instruments that have been mentioned here – various ways of simplifying and modernising legislation without changing its content. To reiterate: the important thing is not to change the substance of regulations, but to make them user friendly and transparent.

I would once more solicit Parliament’s support. In reality, of course, we are concerned here with two large projects, two different projects, one of which is the retroactive screening of the whole corpus of legislation.

Let us not fool ourselves, however. When European integration was still in its infancy, the attitude towards the adoption of legislation was quite different from that which prevails today, and, going back a little further, astonishing things are to be found in the annals of our statute books. No one is denying that modernisation is needed there. The screening of the whole corpus is no simple matter, and I should be very much in favour of our agreeing on common procedures for this, too, and not just with regard to codification, where this has already been done.

A separate issue is how to make regulations or laws in future. The issue of impact assessments plays a quite fundamental role in this connection. I agree with all of you here who have said that it is essential in a democracy that the legislature knows the consequences its action will have for those affected. Of course, that does not mean that the legislature will refrain from acting once in possession of that knowledge. It will always be a matter of judgment.

If the Commission were to say that a piece of legislation would incur costs to the economy of EUR X billion but that, on the other hand, this legislation had to be presented in order to meet the public’s need for health protection, the decision would not be a difficult one. The Commission would then say that the protection of public health takes precedence, even if it costs money.

I should like to make it clear here that impact assessments do not automatically mean that, should it emerge that one of our actions also incurs costs, we simply say: we shall not do it. It is a case of knowing exactly what we are doing.

Some important thoughts have been expressed here on the issue of how best to organise such impact assessments, and I can tell you quite frankly that a discussion on this issue is currently under way in the Commission, and both President Barroso and myself are truly of the opinion that the current system needs to be changed.

I wholeheartedly agree with those of you here who have said that the final decision on the validity of an impact assessment cannot lie with those who performed it, and that work on an impact assessment cannot be carried out exclusively by those making the law associated with it. That is exactly the way President Barroso and I see it. We are discussing the best possible solution. Indeed, in his introductory statement, the President said that he is considering establishing an independent authority under his own responsibility for screening impact assessments. We are ready and willing to continue our dialogue with Parliament, therefore. The same goes for the comitology procedure, in which, indeed, we largely endorse Parliament’s requests, and also for all the other ideas that have been expressed here.

I should just like to impress upon you once more that this exercise should not be dealt with in a technical, bureaucratic or formalistic way. It is truly a highly political exercise. It is intended to help reinforce public confidence in the system of European integration as a whole, and to help provide our economy with a stable, reliable framework, so as to resolve the great social issue of our time, namely that of the future of our jobs.




  President. The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Tuesday, 16 May.

Written Statements (Rule 142)


  Edit Herczog (PSE). – (HU) The rapporteur did an excellent job in identifying the obstacles in Community and Member State laws that create difficulties in the operation of the internal market. The solution is the review of the existing laws and a better, more cautious preparation of new laws. This is the responsibility of the legislation process itself. Neither the Commission, who prepares and executes the laws, nor the legislating Council and Parliament are passing on this responsibility to others, and particularly not to external bodies.

Parliament has a role and responsibility in the review of existing laws in its capacity of legislator. I respectfully ask the Commission to cooperate closely with Parliament, in the spirit of the Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making.

When preparing future regulations, it is not expedient to further complicate the long, bureaucratic procedures. If we were to create an independent external audit body today to examine the quality of impact assessment studies, why should we not create an independent external inspection body tomorrow, to examine the independence of the audit body? Rather than multiplying the bodies inspecting procedures that have proved to be wrong, we should develop new, more efficient working methods to improve the regulation of the internal market. Together with the review of the laws, the Commission, Council and Parliament must also reconsider their own procedures, and if required, they must transform them responsibly.

Finally, I would like to call the attention of all three institutions to the fact that society will only trust and respect European law if we ensure full publicity and social control.


  Véronique Mathieu (PPE-DE). – (FR) European legislation is too complex and sometimes superfluous: an intelligent overhaul must make it possible for us to fight against this unhealthy and damaging lack of clarity.

On the one hand, we should make improvements by reducing and simplifying the existing legislation. In this simplification project, as for any new measure adopted, the principles of proportionality and of subsidiarity must be respected: the European Union where it is necessary, when it is more effective than the Member States acting independently, as much as is needed, but no more than is needed.

The application of these apparently technical principles involves making a judgment as to their social, cultural or other appropriateness, even though there is no effective mechanism with which to monitor their application. This loophole was filled by the draft Constitution. While we are waiting for it to be ratified, we have to wonder about the proper application of these principles.

On the other hand, we need to improve the monitoring of the transposition of Community law because lack of legal certainty undermines the competitiveness of our businesses. The introduction of national correspondents is a positive measure if the controls encompass a quantitative and a qualitative analysis and include an impact analysis regarding the social, economic and ecological environment. These impact analyses must be comparable: they must therefore be standardised. In order to achieve this aim, the European Parliament must strengthen its power in this area.

Legal notice - Privacy policy