EU leaders renew push for SME-proof legislation
European Commission initiative to tackle the 10 most burdensome regulations for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) received backing from EU heads of states and governments at a summit last Friday (15 March).
- REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals);
- VAT – Value added tax legislation;
- General Product Safety and market surveillance package;
- Recognition of professional qualifications;
- Shipments of waste – Waste framework legislation – List of waste and hazardous waste;
- Labour market-related legislation;
- Data protection;
- Working time;
- Recording equipment in road transport (for driving and rest periods);
- Procedures for the award of public contracts (public works, supply and service contracts);
- Modernised customs code.
In their summit conclusions (Page 7, Point C), EU leaders said “further action is required to reduce the overall burden of regulation at EU and national levels” and that “member states should pay particular attention to avoiding additional burdens in the implementation of EU legislation.” "The European Council welcomes the Commission’s recent report on the most burdensome regulations for SMEs and looks forward to receiving initial concrete proposals to implement its findings by June. … It encourages the Commission to use the ‘REFIT’ programme to identify and propose in the autumn the withdrawal of regulations that are no longer of use and to pursue the consolidation of existing legislation as part of its simplification work." European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said "smart regulation" would help European businesses to grow and create jobs. "This is why we have put smart regulation at the heart of our policymaking. And this is why we want to ease the lives of our small- and medium-sized enterprises, which are most important engines for Europe’s economy," Barosso said. A known refrain The initiative is hardly new, however, with the first attempts at cutting red tape for SMEs already featured in the 2000 Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs, which aimed at turning the EU into "the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010." It was followed up by other initiatives, including the 2005 ‘Think small first’ SME policy and the 2008 Small Business Act. >> Read our LinksDossier: Small Business Act: Unlocking SMEs’ potential? Earlier attempts date back to the 1992 Edinburgh European summit, which adopted the "better regulation" initiative aimed at improving the regulatory environment. >> Read our LinksDossier: Better regulation