On 19th May the European Commission pushed through their new “Better Regulation Package”. President Juncker has made a big play about better regulation. He wants the EU to focus only a few areas and get rid of laws on the statute book that are not working.
You’d think no-one was against the idea of better regulation. Who wants poor laws on the books that don’t deliver and are not implemented. There are certainly enough pages of the OJ full of laws that meet that criteria.
Will the Commission’s Power Brokers Bind Themselves?
This Commission is a far more political animal, with power concentrated in the hands of a few people. It is doubtful that they will want to be constrained by the Commission’s own rules. At the moment, things do not look positive.
Fast & Furious: A Sure Start for Futile Laws
A near sure start way for getting bad laws in place is to push proposals through fast.
One of the first major proposals from the new Commission is on GMO authorisation. Its currently being torn to shreds by the European Parliament and Council. It’s like whoever wrote the proposal forgot about the EU Treaty and the internal market provisions. It would be interesting to know what the Commission’s Legal Service’s opinion was to this proposal.
How such an ill thought out proposal could have seen the light of day can be explained by the GMO proposal bypassing the Impact Assessment review. The new guidelines, as well as the old, required :
|An IA is required for Commission initiatives that are likely to have significant economic, environmental or social impacts|
I can only presume that because this proposal fast tracked basic scrutiny was because it was mentioned in the President Juncker’s Priorities. This allowed it to bypass the hurdles of an impact assessment. If it had gone through a cursory scrutiny, some of the many structural (legal) flaws in the proposal would have been highlighted, and the proposal could have been re-worked and improved.
With the Secretary-General Service seemingly becoming the secretariat of the Vice-Presidents, it will be hard for them to step in and block poorly thought out and designed proposals, that have been pushed or signed off by the Vice-Presidents or President.
The agenda of the College of the Commissioners is already written until the start of 2016 with new high-level Commission proposals. Some Services are working around the clock to make sure they have major proposals ready on time. This will undoubtedly lead to the Commission bypassing vital steps of internal scrutiny, in particular the rigorous examination of the impact assessment, when political expediency steps in the way of meeting the politically set timetables.
The Commission’s own Better Regulation Guidelines were designed to stop poor proposals coming out of the Commission. It seems the political spirits of the Juncker Commission will all too often ignore their own rules. That would be a shame.