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Document selected : A6-0355/2008

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Tuesday, 21 October 2008 - Strasbourg
Better lawmaking 2006 pursuant to Article 9 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality

European Parliament resolution of 21 October 2008 on "Better lawmaking 2006" pursuant to Article 9 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality (2008/2045(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 September 2007 on better lawmaking 2005: application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality – 13th report(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 September 2007 on better regulation in the European Union(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 September 2007 on the strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment(3),

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 September 2007 on institutional and legal implications of the use of "soft law" instruments(4),

–   having regard to the Commission report entitled "Better lawmaking 2006" pursuant to Article 9 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality (14th report)" (COM(2007)0286),

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled "Second strategic review of Better Regulation in the European Union" (COM(2008)0032),

–   having regard to the Commission working document entitled "Second progress report on the strategy for simplifying the regulatory environment" (COM(2008)0033),

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled "2008 Fast Track Actions to reduce administrative burdens in the European Union" (COM(2008)0141),

–   having regard to the Commission working document entitled "Reducing administrative burdens in the European Union – 2007 progress report and 2008 outlook" (COM(2008)0035),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6-0355/2008),

A.   whereas the European Union's regulatory environment should be informed by criteria of clarity and effectiveness,

B.   whereas improving regulatory procedures could help to achieve the objectives of the European Union,

C.   whereas the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality are key principles of primary law and, in areas where the Community does not have sole legislative power, must be respected at all costs,

D.   whereas the correct application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality makes a fundamental contribution to consolidating the authority and effectiveness of Community legislation and to ensuring that decisions are taken at a level closer to citizens, thereby ultimately securing greater public acceptance of the European Union, and whereas these principles are essential to legitimising the appropriateness and scope of Community action, inasmuch as they enable the Member States to exercise their own legislative powers in a spirit of collaboration between the various levels of government, thereby increasing legal certainty,

E.   whereas at present Community law-making is subject to the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, which require the establishment of procedures for coordination with the national legislative, executive and judicial authorities in order to guarantee that European Union action is both necessary and lawful,

F.   whereas the Commission highlights a range of significant factors involved in improving European Union regulation, such as impact assessment, reducing administrative costs and simplifying, improving and updating existing regulations,

G.   whereas the Commission attaches importance in this respect to establishing an open dialogue with both sides of industry and with national legislators,

H.   whereas in its "First progress report on the strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment" (COM(2006)0690), the Commission announced approximately 50 codification initiatives for 2006, but only 36 were in fact forwarded to Parliament, and, while 200 codification initiatives were announced for 2007, only 21 were submitted to the legislator,

I.   whereas, in its Simplification Rolling Programme annexed to its above-mentioned "Second progress report on the strategy for simplifying the regulatory environment", the Commission treats the revision and the recasting of regulations current in various areas (energy efficiency of buildings, civil aviation, etc.) as being equivalent,

J.   whereas the Commission has undertaken to submit an action programme intended to reduce the administrative burdens on companies in the European Union by 25% by 2012 and whereas, to that end, it has put forward a series of fast-track actions related to various legislative sectors,

1.  Supports the Commission's objective of improving the quality of Community legislation and reducing the legislative burden, including abolishing legislation that is unnecessary, hampers growth and inhibits innovation; stresses that even greater efforts are required in a number of areas to ensure that the maximum economic benefit is derived from legislation relating to the internal market;

2.  Promotes principles-based legislation and the focus on quality instead of quantity; sees the "better regulation" debate as a good opportunity to reflect on legislation as a process designed to achieve clearly defined policy goals by improving Community legislation so as to favour growth and jobs and by committing all stakeholders to, and involving them in, all phases of the process from preparation to enforcement;

3.  Emphasises, in the context of the efforts to bring about better lawmaking, the importance of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality both in reducing unnecessary bureaucratic burdens on Member States and those affected by legislation and in securing broader acceptance among EU citizens for those measures which, in keeping with both principles, can only be taken at Community level;

4.  Supports the Commission's efforts to bring about the simplification of the Community acquis;

5.  Welcomes the Commission's improved procedures for consulting interested parties when drawing up its legislative proposals, and notes the generally positive reaction of those consulted when evaluating the way in which the Commission encouraged their involvement;

6.  Deplores the fact that, despite having improved its procedures, the Commission continues to draw up separate documents relating to simplification and "better lawmaking" that contain non-identical lists of simplification strategies, which makes it difficult to get a complete overview of the strategy; stresses that the proliferation of such documents must be avoided; calls on the Commission to draw up a single annual document; emphasises that political assessments and good cooperation must take place at European Union level, especially through efforts by Parliament, the Council and the Commission;

7.  Believes that objective impact assessments are an important tool for assessing Commission proposals and calls, therefore, for external, independent scrutiny of the conduct of impact assessments;

8.  Considers that consultations and impact assessments are essential to better drafted Community legislation and that they should neither increase bureaucracy nor present bureaucratic stumbling-blocks preventing the Commission from acting but should instead help to establish a sound legal framework that is conducive to growth in the European Union;

9.  Stresses the need for cost-benefit analyses that reflect the regulatory cost structures when directives are transposed into national legislation and that change the regulatory framework within which companies and individuals operate; is aware, however, that such cost-benefit analyses are no substitute for the political debate about the pros and cons of particular legislation;

10.  Is of the opinion that, when proposing their amendments, Parliament and the Council should take into account both the Commission's and their own impact assessments in order to improve the quality of the drafting of legislation;

11.  11 Takes the view, further, that objective impact assessments must be partly based on early and broad consultation of interested parties; calls on the Commission to incorporate in its impact assessments a comprehensive range of scenarios and policy options (including, where necessary, the "do nothing" option) as the basis for cost-effective and sustainable solutions;

12.  Trusts that the inclusion of a forecast of administrative costs in the assessments will improve the quality of the latter;

13.  Stresses the importance of the political assessment carried out at European Union level by bodies representing citizens, such as Parliament, or bodies representing local and social bodies such as the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee respectively;

14.  Voices doubts as to the appropriateness of encouraging self-regulation and co-regulation, which could ultimately turn into a form of "legislative abstinence" that would favour only pressure groups and powerful players on the economic stage; for that reason, supports the Commission's conclusion that regulations continue to be the simplest way of achieving the European Union's objectives and providing both businesses and citizens with legal certainty; calls on the Commission to develop a more consistent approach in this connection;

15.  Underlines that non-legislative measures should respect the balance of power and the respective roles of the institutions; wants to make a wise and coherent contribution to such measures, building on experience; stresses the need for political endorsement of such innovative measures;

16.  Believes that the European Union's formal regulatory system needs to be strengthened, in the terms set out in the Treaties, and that short cuts, even by means of informal legislation which has no binding force, should be avoided;

17.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission has taken steps to put an end to the delay in the translation into the new official languages of the European Union of the texts being codified; deplores the fact that, despite approximately 50 codification initiatives having been announced for 2006 and approximately 200 for 2007, the Commission has forwarded only 36 and 21 proposals respectively to Parliament;

18.  Urges the Commission to abide by the published codification and recasting lists by submitting to the legislator, as far as possible, all the initiatives announced, and explaining the reasons for the absence of those which are omitted; stresses that Parliament's goodwill has been shown by the reform of Rules 80 and 80a of its Rules of Procedure, which allows these simplification initiatives to be adopted more quickly and more simply;

19.  Reminds the Commission likewise that codification and recasting initiatives are adopted by Parliament within reasonable deadlines and that, in so far as there may be longer deadlines with regard to other simplification initiatives, this is due to the fact that these provisions are ordinary legislative proposals, which as such are subject to the normal adoption procedure and the usual deadlines;

20.  Confirms its wish that the Commission adopt recasting as an ordinary legislative technique, even when the "revision" of the current text is being proposed, so as to make it possible to have – for each initiative – a complete overview of the text, including the specific amendments, clearly indicating which parts are new and which parts remain unchanged;

21.  Calls on the Commission, likewise, to bear in mind that, when recasting is not possible, the ordinary legislative technique should make provision for codification, within not more than six months, of the successive amendments to the legislative act in question; believes that, in accordance with the Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making(5), specific structures could be established in conjunction with the Council and the Commission, making provision for the adequate involvement of the interested parties, in order to encourage simplification;

22.  Recalls that, since ambiguous and ineffective soft-law instruments can have negative effects on the development of European Union law and on the balance between the institutions, they should be used only very cautiously – where provided for in the Treaties and in a manner strictly consistent with the allocation of competences under primary law – and that, in all cases, legal certainty should be guaranteed;

23.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission has decided to forward its new proposals and consultation documents to the national parliaments directly, in order to seek their reactions upstream of the Community law-making process, thus anticipating the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty; fully endorses the importance of collaboration of this kind when it comes to improving the quality and application of Community legislation, in particular the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

24.  Is of the opinion that transposition should be seriously and proactively monitored to avoid diverging interpretations and gold-plating; wants the Commission to play an active role in transposition, together with supervisors and expert groups, at both Community and national level, since early analysis may prevent delays and unnecessary burdens on undertakings; calls on the Commission to investigate what further measures might be taken to prevent gold-plating, including the introduction of a right of direct action for citizens; calls for "follow-up impact assessments" analysing how decisions are in fact implemented at national and local level; supports the increasingly appropriate use of regulations; suggests, once again, that Parliament establish a proper transposition-monitoring procedure in close cooperation with its national partners;

25.  Believes that, with a view to more efficient relations with the national parliaments, there is a need for a common approach to the conditions established by the subsidiarity and proportionality principles; fully endorses the Commission's initiative on including a standardised range of questions in this connection with a view to drawing up the explanatory statements accompanying Commission proposals, as set out in Annex 3 to Commission Working Document SEC(2007)0737;

26.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission has announced a review of the Community acquis on company, accounting and auditing law, and trusts that specific proposals in this regard will be forthcoming as soon as possible;

27.  Reiterates the need to reduce the unnecessary administrative burdens which companies have to bear in order to meet the information obligations laid down both by European legislation and national provisions for its application; emphasises that the Commission's target of reducing administrative burdens by 25% by 2012 should be a net target, meaning that reductions in certain areas must not be nullified by new administrative burdens imposed elsewhere; supports the increased use of information and communication technology in this area; calls on the Commission to assess, and where possible reduce, the general administrative burdens borne by all interested parties, even if they are not companies;

28.  Underlines that further efforts to achieve simplification are also required in the Commission's interaction with citizens, e.g. in the areas of procurement, financial services, research programmes, State aid rules and applications for Community funding;

29.  Recalls the importance of the judicious use of "review clauses" to ensure that legislation remains relevant;

30.  Confirms that it is ready to maintain and upgrade its collaboration with the Council and the Commission in order to meet citizens" and companies" expectations concerning the simplification of Community legislation, particularly with regard to fast-track action proposals designed to reduce administrative burdens; stresses that, in any case, the process of simplifying decision-making procedures in order to shorten deadlines needs to respect the requirements of the procedures laid down in the Treaties;

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 187 E, 24.7.2008, p. 67.
(2) OJ C 187 E, 24.7.2008, p. 60.
(3) OJ C 187 E, 24.7.2008, p. 72.
(4) OJ C 187 E, 24.7.2008, p. 75.
(5) OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, p. 1.

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