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Commission to simplify life for SMEs by easing EU laws

Friday March 8th, 2013

Government Opportunities (GO)The European Commission has put small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) at the heart of its smart regulation agenda to help growth and job creation in Europe.

20.8m SMEs create 85% of all new jobs in Europe, they employ 2/3 of the workforce in the EU and they contribute significantly to innovation and growth.

In a broad consultation initiated by the Commission, around 1000 SMEs and business organisations have now identified the top 10 most burdensome EU laws. The purpose of this broad consultation was to check where EU regulation might be impeding jobs and growth and to identify areas or issues which would require further examination and action where necessary.

The result indicates that SMEs see the biggest difficulties and costs as a consequence of the rules regarding the REACH chemical legislation, value added tax, product safety, recognition of professional qualifications, data protection, waste legislation, labour market related legislation, recording equipment for road transport, public procurement and the modernised customs code.

The Commission, while recognising the overall necessity of having European-wide rules in these areas, will now thoroughly address these concerns via the new Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT1) launched in December 2012. Through this programme, the EU’s regulatory acquis is being screened for burdens, gaps and inefficiencies in order to evaluate and if appropriate revise those laws where the assessment points to a need for action.

The Commission will announce follow up actions by June 2013, also taking into account the outcome of the ongoing legislative processes.

The following EU laws have been identified by SMEs as the TOP 10 most burdensome EU laws:

  • REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals)
  • VAT – Value added tax legislation
  • General Product Safety and market surveillance package
  • Recognition of professional qualifications
  • Shipments of waste – Waste framework legislation – List of waste and hazardous waste
  • Labour market-related legislation
  • Data protection
  • Working time
  • Recording equipment in road transport (for driving and rest periods)
  • Procedures for the award of public contracts (public works, supply and service contracts)
  • Modernised customs code

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: “I want to thank all those who contributed to identifying the most burdensome pieces of legislation. We will work hard not to disappoint your expectations.”

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “Our legislation needs to be designed with SMEs (and especially new entrepreneurs) in mind: it must be smart, it must be simple and it must be stable. The better we listen to SMEs concerns, the better they can help us to return to growth.”

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