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Procedure : 2006/2006(INI)
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PV 04/04/2006 - 13
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PV 16/05/2006 - 10.2
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Tuesday, 16 May 2006 - Strasbourg
Strategy for simplification of the regulatory environment

European Parliament resolution on a strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment (2006/2006(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2000 on the Commission reports to the European Council entitled "Better lawmaking 1998 – A shared responsibility" and "Better lawmaking 1999"(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 29 November 2001 on the Commission White Paper on European governance(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 8 April 2003 on the Commission reports to the European Council entitled "Better lawmaking 2000" and "Better lawmaking 2001"(3),

–   having regard to its resolution of 26 February 2004 on the Commission report entitled "Better Lawmaking 2002"(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2004 on the Commission communication on simplifying and improving the Community's regulatory activity(5),

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 April 2004 on assessment of the impact of Community legislation and the consultation procedures(6),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A6-0080/2006),

A.   whereas simplifying the legislative environment and ensuring the clarity, efficacy and quality of both existing and future legislation are essential prerequisites for attaining the objective of "better lawmaking", which constitutes a priority for the Union in the context of boosting growth and employment,

B.   having regard to the obligations and aims laid down in the Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making of 16 December 2003(7), especially those intended to simplify, and reduce the volume of, Community legislation and those relating to the impact of Community legislation in the Member States,

C.   whereas the Commission, in its communication of 25 October 2005 entitled "Implementing the Community Lisbon programme: a strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment" (COM(2005)0535), rightly presents simplification not as a distinct legislative technique involving codification, recasting or straightforward repeal but as an overall approach including those tools and aimed at making Community and national legislation easier to apply and hence less costly,

D.   whereas this approach, is for the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament, a tool for use in achieving the aims of the Lisbon strategy,

E.   whereas such an approach requires a close partnership in this area, first between the European institutions and then between the latter and the national authorities,

F.   having regard to the unstinting efforts by the Commission, the Council and Parliament in recent years to bring about, define and improve the application of legislative simplification tools,

G.   whereas the simplification initiatives undertaken since the second simplification programme was launched in February 2003 following the Communication from the Commission to the Council entitled "Updating and simplifying the Community acquis" (COM(2003)0071, 11 February 2003) have varied widely in nature and scope, ranging from the review of specific directives to overhauling the legislation of an entire sector, thus hampering a standardised procedural approach,

H.   having regard to the experience acquired in the implementation of the Interinstitutional Agreements of 20 December 1994(8) on codification and of 28 November 2001(9) on recasting, and considering those instruments to be essential in order to simplify the acquis communautaire,

I.   whereas since the Interinstitutional Agreement on recasting entered into force, only 12 recasting proposals have been submitted, of which 2 led ultimately to publication of the resulting acts, 2 have been withdrawn, and 8 are still pending; and whereas, compared to somewhere in the region of 2 400 families of legislative acts to which the procedure might be applicable, only 49 codification proposals have to date been submitted to Parliament,

J.   whereas the above-mentioned Commission Communication of 2005 contains, in its "Simplification Rolling Programme" (Annex 2), thirty proposals which cannot easily be classified, dealing generically with cases for "review", "revision", "modernisation", "simplification" and the like,

1.  Strongly supports the process of simplification of the Union's regulatory environment, as well as the objective of ensuring that the regulatory environment is appropriate, simple and effective; stresses, however, that such a process must be based on a number of preconditions:

   a) full involvement of the European Parliament both in the interinstitutional debate on simplification and, as co-legislator, in the adoption of the legislation subject to the "simplification process";
   b) wide and transparent consultation of all relevant stakeholders, thus including not only Member States and business but also non-governmental organisations;
   c) strengthening of the general transparency of the regulatory process, in particular by opening Council discussions to the public when the Council is acting in its legislative capacity;

2.  Encourages the Commission to adopt, under the aegis of the Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making, specifically targeted and well thought-out legislation the effects of which can be foreseen, and which will help to establish favourable conditions for boosting growth and employment by reducing unnecessary administrative costs and procedures, eliminating obstacles to adaptability and innovation and generally ensuring legal certainty;

3.  Welcomes the above-mentioned Commission communication of 2005, the commitment to submitting a programme to simplify legislative acts, and the methods and targets laid down for translating that programme into reality;

4.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission intends to include major simplification initiatives in its annual legislative programmes and the announcement that the Commission will submit additional communications to cover the different sectors of the Community economy; stresses the importance of close collaboration between the Member States and the Commission for the purpose of identifying the legislation which should be simplified;

5.  Welcomes the intention to reduce the unnecessary burden on SMEs and to reinforce the use of information technology; considers that one of the objectives of simplifying the Union's regulatory environment should be to make legislation simpler and more effective, and thus more "user-oriented";

6.  Considers that the simplification process should in no circumstances entail lowering the standards set by current legislation; warns, for example, against an excessively narrow and exclusively financial and administrative analysis of the costs and benefits of the legislation concerned; is convinced that any assessment with a view to simplification must take account equally of economic, social, environmental and health aspects, and should not restrict itself to short-term considerations;

7.  Invites the Commission to give priority to the simplification of regulations; considers that directives should be simplified only in exceptional and duly justified cases, when they are not dealing with very sensitive matters or are not the result of difficult compromises, as in the case of EC company law;

8.  Notes that the success rate of the simplification initiatives undertaken since 2003 is not disappointing and that the average length of procedures is not excessive given the complexity of the subject-matter; observes, nevertheless, that the number of simplification initiatives launched since that date has been very limited and that the targets originally set for reducing the volume of the Community acquis are far from being achieved;

9.  Takes the view that the repeal of irrelevant and obsolete acts is a priority requirement with which the Commission must comply without delay; considers, however, that when Community legislation is repealed on those grounds, a Community act must be put in place at the same time to prevent Member States from regulating matters that have been deregulated at Community level;

10.  Points out that, while there may be over-regulation in some areas, this state of affairs is due in large measure to the lawmaking activity of the Member States and that, therefore, if Community legislation is to be repealed, this must be followed by repeal of the corresponding national provisions;

11.  Proposes that the Commission constantly monitor such national legislation as might remain in force after the Community legislation that gave rise to it has been repealed; considers that the Commission should add appropriate review clauses to its proposals;

12.  Considers codification and recasting to be the primary means of simplifying the acquis communautaire and urges that they be used more widely; believes that recasting has been used only to a limited extent and that this is due to both lack of interest on the part of the Commission and a failure to gear the European Parliament's Rules of Procedure closely enough to the Interinstitutional Agreement on recasting;

13.  Supports the codification of the acquis communitaire but is sceptical about its total recasting, as this may well lead to diverging interpretations among the EU institutions; warns that simplification should not lead to a re-writing of the acquis outside democratic control;

14.  Applauds the results achieved so far through codification of Community legislation and hopes that the Commission units concerned will draw up new, and more ambitious, codification proposals extending also to sectors other than those covered to date, in particular company law, intellectual property, and consumer protection;

15.  Considers that if the institutions genuinely wish to simplify legislation and employ recasting to that end, the Interinstitutional Agreement on recasting should be applied more rigorously;

16.  Understands that, if the intention is to make recasting effective, the European Parliament and the Council will, as a matter of principle, have to refrain from amending the codified parts of acts; believes that, if the institutions genuinely wish to simplify legislation and employ recasting to that end, the codified parts of an act should, as a rule, be subject to the provisions laid down in the Interinstitutional Agreement on codification; recognises, however, that there should be a special procedure to enable the codified part to be amended whenever this is essential in order to make it consistent with, or to link it to, the part that can be altered;

17.  Considers that the institutions might usefully determine whether a third type of operation might be provided for, alongside codification and recasting, so as to afford the most appropriate means of simplifying Community legal acts; considers, however, that to date, in those cases in which the Commission has drawn up generic simplification proposals which cannot be classified as involving repeal, codification or recasting, the European Parliament cannot embark on any procedure other than the customary one and that therefore, in such cases, point 36 of the Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making cannot be applied;

18.  Considers that the Interinstitutional Agreement on recasting should spell out the procedure to follow in cases where, during a legislative procedure, it proves necessary to alter the codified parts of the act;

19.  Calls on the Commission, taking into account the guidelines set out above, to submit a proposal without delay with a view to recasting the interinstitutional agreements governing the quality of Union legislation;

20.  Is ready to make a larger contribution to the work that needs to be done jointly by the three institutions to relaunch the simplification process;

21.  Undertakes for its part to give thought to the improvement of its procedures and its internal legislative techniques in order to speed up the simplification dossiers, while complying with the procedures laid down in primary law, in this particular case the EC Treaty;

22.  Instructs the Committee on Constitutional Affairs to determine what amendments might be made to the Rules of Procedure to enable the agreement on recasting to be effectively implemented, not least with a view to making greater use of the simplified procedures laid down in the Rules of Procedure;

23.  Emphasises the fact that traditional legislative instruments must continue to be used as a general rule to attain the objectives laid down in the Treaties; takes the view that the use of alternative regulatory methods such as co-regulation and self-regulation could usefully supplement legislative measures where these methods make improvements of equivalent or broader scope than legislation can provide; stresses that any use of alternative regulatory methods must comply with the interinstitutional agreement on "better law-making"; points out that the Commission has to lay down the conditions and limits which the parties must observe when employing such regulatory methods, and that these should in any event be used under Commission supervision and without prejudice to Parliament's right to object to their use;

24.  Asks the Commission to present a report assessing whether the current practice of standardisation as a form of co-regulation meets the requirements of the Inter-Institutional agreement on better law-making and Article 6 of the EC Treaty;

25.  Takes the view that standardisation could lead to less transparency and accountability, since the elected representatives would not be involved in decision making, and participation of non-governmental organisations and other interested parties would not be guaranteed in the same way; takes the view, therefore, that standardisation should be strictly limited to harmonising measures of a purely technical nature;

26.  Is surprised that the issue of reforming the current system of delegating rule-making ("comitology") receives only a brief mention in passing – towards the end of point 3.d – in the above-mentioned Commission communication of 2005, even though such a reform could make a major contribution to simplifying secondary Community law by allowing the Commission to adopt implementing provisions using faster procedures;

27.  Is of the opinion that the legislature could also contribute to simplification through agreement on less detailed legal acts and the use of a wider range of implementing measures by the Commission, provided that effective control by the legislature as to the substance of those implementing measures is guaranteed;

28.  Reaffirms in this context that any recourse to the "comitology" procedure would necessitate a complete revision of Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(10), in order to:

   a) guarantee greater openness,
   b) ensure that any conferral of implementing powers on the Commission was limited to non-essential or implementing measures and was conditional upon a clear definition of the objective, content, scope and duration of the delegation of powers, including, where appropriate, "sunset clauses",
   c) guarantee the introduction of formal equality between the powers of the European Parliament and those of the Council in considering these measures, through the introduction of call-back procedures;

29.  Takes note of the list of actions contained in the Commission simplification rolling programme and will actively cooperate in the achievement of the objective of simplifying pieces of legislation, if appropriate, in the context of the forthcoming legislative process;

30.  Expects that the various recasting and review proposals emanating from the Commission will contribute to improving the Union's level of economic and social development in the context of the sustainable development policy, as well as the level of citizens" health protection and the quality of their environment, in conformity with the objectives laid down in Article 2 of the EC Treaty;

31.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 197, 12.7.2001, p. 433.
(2) OJ C 153 E, 27.6.2002, p. 314.
(3) OJ C 64 E, 12.3.2004, p. 135.
(4) OJ C 98 E, 23.4.2004, p. 155.
(5) OJ C 102 E, 28.4.2004, p. 512.
(6) OJ C 104 E, 30.4.2004, p. 146.
(7) OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 102, 4.4.1996, p. 2.
(9) OJ C 77, 28.3.2002, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.

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