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The Better Regulation restaurant

This article is part of a new series of blogs on “Better Regulation” that started with this introduction. It is based on an initial assessment of the Better Regulation package by our member organisation SOLIDAR, published in May 2015.

Setting the table for Better Regulation?

When Frans Timmermans presented the Better Regulation Package in May, he used the analogy of refurbishing a kitchen. He said it is not important for those who eat a meal how the kitchen is furnished but rather how the food tastes in the end. Sticking to this metaphor, we want not only that the food tastes good but also that each and every one can afford a meal and has a place at the table.

Who is the waiter, who is the cook?

Vice President Timmermans mentioned repeatedly that stakeholders often complained about the administrative burdens and the complexity of EU legislation. One of the most important groups of stakeholders according to the Vice President are the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Just as in President Juncker’s ‘Jobs, Growth and Investment Package’ SMEs enjoy the privilege of having the highest priority (‘Think Small First’ principle) in the Better Regulation Package whereas the concerns of civil society and other stakeholder groups have not been mentioned in particular.

One of the main reforms in Mr Timmermans’s package is the establishment of a ‘Regulatory Scrutiny Board’ consisting of three members from the European Commission, three ‘independent’ experts and a chairperson. The board will be able to scrutinize new legislative acts and also existing legislation. SOLIDAR is specifically concerned by the foreseeable isolation of the Council and in particular the European Parliament when it comes to scrutiny. The members of the Scrutiny Board should not only have a say on what will be cooked in Mr Timmermans’ kitchen but will also decide on how the meals will be prepared.

The (solvent) customer is king

Vice President Timmermans also announced the installment of a platform, where representatives will have the opportunity to actively participate in consultation processes concerning planned REFIT actions to optimize EU regulation. We are concerned that this will further increase the influence of corporate lobbyists.

In Vice President Timmermans’s restaurant the most solvent customers not only get the better tables but may also have a say on what they want to have on the menu. An inclusive, European restaurant should serve meals that are affordable and digestible for everyone.

Some restaurant critics are just not right

We are concerned about Vice President Timmermans’s statement that he “is not angry about Eurosceptics but about the fact that they are right in many cases”. Self-criticism and the willingness to improve one’s work are very welcome, but wrong critics can’t lead to right politics. Civil society organisations like SOLIDAR criticize the Commission’s work in a constructive way by calling for an inclusive Europe, whereas Eurosceptics use populism to evoke fear and further drive the people away from the idea of European integration.

For SOLIDAR, Better Regulation does not mean deregulation, but improving the legislature in regard to European treaties, our basic, common values and the Fundamental Rights and therefore should be beneficial for everyone.

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