By Martin Banks - 14th September 2011
I hope my report can put us on the road to a Europe where laws are more-easily understood
MEPs are expected to approve a report which calls for "fewer and better" pieces of legislation in Europe.
A key demand of the report is a "one-in, one-out" rule for new European legislation, requiring the EU to scrap at least one old and defunct piece of legislation if it wants to make way for any new piece of law.
The report requires European institutions to respect the principles of subsidiarity and supports the closer involvement of national parliaments in the European legislative process.
The report, debated by deputies at their plenary in Strasbourg on Tuesday, demands that "All stakeholders must step up their game, not only to reach the 25 per cent goal, but also to reduce regulatory costs over the course of this commission and indeed beyond 2014."
"Discrepancies in interpretation and the 'gold-plating' of legislation are major issues that need to be addressed, primarily by member states in implementing and transposing legislation into national law but also by the commission in its role as guardian of the treaties.
"Member states should therefore be required to justify their decision to introduce higher requirements in domestic legislation beyond standards set in EU legislation."
Consultation documents are said to be increasingly complex and efforts should be made to simplify them and make them more widely available to the public.
The commission should even consider a "clarity test", which documents should be required to pass before they are issued, and give one commissioner direct responsibility for smart legislation as part of their portfolio.
The report is expected to be approved in a vote on Wednesday.
The report was drafted by UK MEP Sajjad Karim, who said, "The EU needs to get serious about cutting the burden of its laws and regulations on businesses and individuals. It can only do that by breaking its addiction to churning out new laws.
"That means curbing its instinct to legislate on everything, and aiming instead for a statute book that is relevant, targeted and clear.
Karim says the EU is set to miss its target of reducing administrative burdens by 25 per cent by 2012.
He urges EU leaders to start a dialogue with small businesses across Europe to identify barriers to trade and complains that communication about proposed legislation is poor.
"Reports emanating from the institutions often make it unclear to businesses and the public exactly what legislation has ultimately been adopted," he said.
"I hope my report can put us on the road to a Europe where laws are more-easily understood, proportionate, as unintrusive as possible and evenly applied and enforced."
Further comment came from UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen who was critical of the report.
She said, "The UK Conservative party, like the Labour Party before them, continue to pass large amounts of EU legislation in the UK. While their MEPs in Europe tell the public they want to end needless EU laws, their government continues to heap more of it on British businesses.
"The fundamental weakness of EU regulation is the assumption that one size-fits all works. This is not the case.
"Each member state has its own social and economic realities. Repeated attempts at harmonisation is making their situation worse, not better."
She added, "The bottom line is this: Does this report reduce red-tape? No. Of course not. It only seeks to make it more cost-effective. There is no such thing as "better" EU regulation. Only more EU red tape. This report is doing a disservice to small and medium sized businesses up and down Britain by pretending otherwise."