European red-tape cut

4th October 2013

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Environmental regulation is becoming less burdensome particularly for smaller businesses, claims the European Commission in a new communication

Outlining efforts to improve EU legislation through its “REFIT” project, the European commission cites the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) as an example of where it has been able to consolidate rules to make compliance both simpler and cheaper for firms.

According to its calculations, the IED, which replaced seven existing directives, has reduced the administrative burden on businesses by €32 million each year. The commission also highlights the changes to the costs of REACH registration for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as a further good example of where changes have been made.

The communication also gives details of the areas the commission is working together with the European parliament and council to improve legislation. These include proposals to consolidate rules on animal and plant health, which will entail the repeal of 46 legal acts in total. Other areas of law currently under review include rules on chemicals not covered by REACH, Natura 2000, the EU eco label and the European eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS).

The commission confirms it is carrying out a review of EU waste policy and legislation under REFIT and says that at the beginning of 2014 it will hold a workshop to discuss concern over waste rules raised by specifically SMEs. The commission also pledges to take action to ensure more SMEs can participate in the European resource efficiency platform.

The commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, said: “Europe is there to help find solutions to the big challenges we are collectively facing. However, to be effective, we need to make sure we concentrate on the right priorities and have the right dose of regulation. Let's think twice whether, when and where we need to act at European level.

“With REFIT, the commission has undertaken the most comprehensive exercise to date to make EU law lighter and simpler.”

The REFIT communication confirms that the commission is planning to withdraw and reconsider a number of its proposals for legislation that have stalled in the EU parliament and council, including its 2006 suggestion for a Soil Framework Directive and plans published in 2003 on access to justice on environmental issues.

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