The EU’s Better Regulation agenda was originally set out in the Commission’s 2001 White Paper on European Governance.

It was a broad agenda which aimed to strengthen the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, accountability and transparency of EU policies, while ensuring greater engagement of stakeholders and citizens.

The turning point for what is now known as ‘Better Regulation’ came in 2005 with the review of the Lisbon Strategy. The concept of Better Regulation was narrowed down to focus on impacts of regulation on growth and jobs, leading to the main guiding document on Better Regulation, the Strategy for the Simplification of the Regulatory Environment (COM(2005)535) and a simplification programme for 300 items of EU legislation.

Effective and well-focused regulation can play a vital role in correcting market failures, promoting fairness and increasing competition. The so-called Prague Statement, issued by the Heads of European Environment Protection Agencies in November 2005, recognised the contribution that good environmental regulation makes to competitiveness despite the fact that some measures to protect the environment and human health may increase short-term costs to business these have to be set against the long-term benefits to society as a whole, or the costs of not taking action, for example in the field of climate change.

Where regulation is necessary, it needs to be sufficiently rigorous to achieve environmental objectives without imposing unnecessary administrative or other burdens to business or administrations.

The EU’s Better Regulation agenda also covers the Impact Assessment of legislative proposals. The quality of such assessments has improved considerably over the years, although there is still significant room for improvement.

Industry often has a tendency to interpret Better Regulation as de-regulation. Consequently IEEP aims to ensure in its work that the original ‘Good Governance’ principles of the Governance White Paper are adhered to.

Key work in this area:

For Better or for Worse? The EU’s 'Better Regulation' Agenda and the Environment. This report describes the development of the EU’s Better Regulation agenda and its implications for the environment.

Developing a checklist for assessing legislation on practicability and enforceability. This checklist was developed under a project initiated by IMPEL, the EU Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law, as a practical tool to enable actors and stakeholders in the legislative and implementation process to assess EU environmental legislation on various aspects of practicability and enforceability, both ex ante and ex post.

Practical application of better regulation principles in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental inspection authorities. This report for IMPEL describes best practice approaches to better regulation in the Member States.

Regarding work in this area please contact:

Andrew Farmer