Using the phrase “Better Regulation”, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced his intention to improve European law making. Greater transparency, improved involvement of the public and a focus on the big questions, Europe is concerned with. Hence, the European Commission wants to improve the acceptance of the EU. However, in the past, “Better Regulation” programmes have too often - under the guise of reducing red tape - ¬led to deregulation measures at the expense of employees.


In his State of the Union Address, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had already announced his intention to restrict the legislative initiatives of the EU to the really big future issues. “Big on big things” and “small on small things” is the current motto of the European Commission. The negative reporting on the EU in connection with curved cucumbers or olive jugs has probably also been stuck in the memory of many in Brussels.


Ever since its inauguration in November 2014, the Commission has been demonstrating a certain degree of restraint. It has submitted fewer than 25 new legislative initiatives per year whilst its predecessor Commissions presented far in excess of a 100. Now a task force has been established under the leadership of the Commission's first Vice President, Frans Timmermans, to further strengthen subsidiarity and proportionality in respect of EU legislation. Apart from MEPs, this task force shall also include members of the national Parliaments. It has a year to present a report on possible improvement measures. The objectives are more open and more transparent decision-making, an increased involvement of the public and stakeholders in the law making process and the reduction of the administrative burden. However, especially the aimed at reduction of the administrative burden will not necessarily result in improvements for employees and consumers.


Initiatives to improve EU Regulation have been pursued for 20 years already. Based on these experiences, the AK takes a rather critical view also with regard to the most recent forays: one must not forget that under the predecessor Commission with Commission President Barroso at the helm, deregulation measures were pursued under the pretext of cutting red tape at the expense of employees. Under the programme for “Regulatory Fitness and Performance” — in short REFIT — in particular labour and social standards have been branded as administrative burden since 2012 and called into question. In doing so, planned legislative proposals on the disease of the locomotor system, passive smoking or carcinogens were nipped in the bud. in June 2014, it also became apparent, which priorities would get preferential treatment if in doubt: in the course of the REFIT Programme, the Barroso Commission decided not to present a legislative initiative on improving occupational health and safety standards in the hairdressing sector, even though a relevant agreement of the European social partners already existed.


Hence, the AK will closely monitor the new initiatives on “Better Regulation” to ensure these will not lead to deregulation measures at the expense of employees and consumers under the Juncker Commission as well. Lobby organisations still try, via initiatives such as “Better Regulation”, to stop unwelcomed laws and to enforce advantages for the business sector. By shining a light on these undesirable developments, the AK wants to strengthen the positive sides of “Better Regulation” to ensure that this initiative can contribute to creating better conditions for employees and consumers in the EU. Only then, “Better Regulation” will actually result in improved law making in the EU.


Further information:

AK EUROPA Position Paper: Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT)

AK EUROPA: REFIT: A package of measures by the EU Commission which is socially difficult to justify!

EU Programme REFIT: Another wolf in sheep’s clothing