EU Leaders consider burdensome legislation

A 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 earlier in MArch 2013.

The European Commission surveyed approximately 1,000 SMEs and business organisations to identify the top 10 most burdensome EU laws in order to change or reduce them.

EU leaders have told the Commission to set out in June how it wants to reduce the burdens for SMEs with a plan to a list of unnecessary European rules by the autumn.

The following EU laws have been identified by SMEs as the 10 most burdensome:

  • 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

Some of the “so-called” burdensome legislation are fundamental to the environment and safety, such as the REACH regulations and those relating to waste management. It is, also, difficult to see EU governments abolishing VAT anytime soon.

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 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.” This was followed up by other initiatives, including the 2005 ‘Think small first’ SME policy and the 2008 Small Business Act.

We can only wait until the autumn to see what the proposals will be…

A copy of the summit conclusions can be found at:

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