Commission plans to reduce red tape cross a red line for democracy and the environment

credit: Mark Hamblin

Following the publication of the European Commission’s “Better Regulation” package today [1], Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau, said:

This proposal is a bad deal for the European Parliament, European citizens and European democracy in general. In return for a vague promise of ‘taking into account suggestions to its work programme,’ the Commission wants the Parliament and national governments to sign up to President Juncker’s flawed political priorities and limit their flexibility to amend Commission proposals through a top-heavy impact assessment procedure [2] ”.

Juncker’s Political Guidelines do nothing to address environmental issues except climate change [3], and this deal would tie the Parliament and other EU institutions into them,” said Wates. “Better regulation should mean a transparent, efficient and democratic law-making process aimed at making sustainable development the overarching priority of the EU. Instead the Commission is using this initiative to clog up the legislative process and is losing itself in a pointless blame game about where bureaucracy comes from [3]. Make no mistake: this deal is not about better regulation, it is about less regulation, and it fails to target the areas where there is unnecessary red tape” [4].

Wates called on the Parliament and Member States to “turn the package around so that better regulation means helping Europe to play to its strengths: developing effective and ambitious new laws to tackle the real challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, overconsumption of resources and the protection of human health [5].”

He warned that “if the European Parliament and Council were to agree to top heavy impact assessment procedures reliant for approval on a new technocratic body with neither democratic accountability nor legitimacy, this would be a very bad day for democracy in Europe”.


Notes to editors

[1] The European Commission today agreed its “Better Regulation” package during its College meeting in Strasbourg. A key tenet of the package is the reduction of the number of laws passed in the EU each year. Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and his team have already shrunk the planned rate of legislation for 2015 by 75 per cent – the more usual rate of 100 laws a year has been slashed to just 23 in the pipeline for this year.

[2] The Commission hopes to reduce the number of laws and ensure that those agreed support its “growth and jobs agenda” to the detriment of other priorities by creating a Regulatory Scrutiny Board. This would be a top-heavy version of the current Impact Assessment Board and with the inclusion of three independent and external members, would significantly weaken the ability of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to amend Commission proposals.

[3] Green 10 letters expressing concerns about Juncker’s Political Guidelines.

[4] The package also provides for the creation of a “platform” chaired by Timmermans to collect feedback, including from national governments and recognised experts, on whether current or future EU laws would supposedly have a detrimental effect on SMEs. It is important to note that the majority of bureaucracy comes from areas like taxation and customs, not environmental policies. The latter are responsible for less than 1 per cent of red tape in the EU, as found in the opinion from 2009 by the High Level Group on Administrative Burden

[5] The EEB last week sent a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to call for “effective and ambitious new laws to tackle the real challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, overconsumption of resources and protection of human health”.

A group of more than 50 non-governmental organisations, including the EEB, have set up a Better Regulation Watchdog to keep an eye on the Commission. The Watchdog will work to ensure that better regulation means laws to improve social, environmental, labour, consumer, economic and public health standards for citizens and an inclusive and competitive Europe founded on economic, social and environmental sustainability.

For further information, please contact:

Pieter de Pous, Director of Policy,

For more information:

Emily Macintosh, Communications Officer - Nature and Agriculture

+32 2 274 10 86

Commission plans to reduce red tape cross a red line for democracy and the environment
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