.
Skip to content.
Skip to content.
Meetings Calendar 2006
January
.
February
.
March
.
April
.
May
.
June
.
March
  Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su  
 
.
.
1
.
2
.
3
.
4
.
5
.
 
  6
.
7
.
8
.
9
.
10
.
11
.
12
.
 
  13
.
14
.
15
.
16
.
17
.
18
.
19
.
 
  20
.
21
.
22
.
23
.
24
.
25
.
26
.
 
  27
.
28
.
29
.
30
.
31
.
.
.
 
 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
Service
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Speeches, Interviews

19.04.2006

European Subsidiarity Conference, Keynote Speech by Edmund Stoiber


 

Subsidiarity and Cutting Red Tape as Political Challenges

 

The European Union is growing dynamically and its attractiveness to the outside world is still unbroken, just think of all the people who want to join us, there are quite many of them. At the same time, the support by citizens of the states that are members already, is decreasing considerably. The rejection of the Constitutional Treaty in the referenda in France and the Netherlands, we talked about that already, and the opinion polls on the European policy in all member states show this very clearly.

The declining acceptance of the European Union among Europe’s citizens is certainly due to a number of factors. It is our task to show the attractiveness of the European Union to its citizens at the beginning of the 21st century. If the President of the United States and the President of China meet today, they talk about very important questions that have an impact on us as well. We can’t say that Austria, Italy, France  or Germany can safeguard their interests, so to speak. This can only be done for us by the European Union as a whole. If we make that clear to our citizens that in this time of globalisation the Austrian, Italian, German interests can in some areas only be implemented via Europe, I think, that will be something that citizens will understand, that will make them feel that Europe is closer to them.

But the declining acceptance of the European Union by our citizens, which I think is very problematic, is due to various reasons.

One reason might be that people just don’t know enough about the European Union, that’s certainly true and the national media don’t report enough about European developments. Unfortunately, there is no European public, there is only a national public today, and that is why it is certainly right to inform the citizens more and better about the European Union. But, that in itself is not sufficient, as can clearly seen by this declining approval.

Many citizens especially criticise the rapid enlargement of the European Union and that we have not yet come to terms with the consequences of this enlargement. People are afraid that this means that the EU is growing too fast and this will lead to major problems in the long run. You cannot say that this isn’t the case. This Big Bang has really created a big Europe but it has also caused considerable fears.

In addition to the enlargement policy, increasing red tape and regulation from Brussels also play a major role. But the citizens and the parties concerned really do not understand rules and regulations, including detailed regulations of the European Union, if they cannot see the need for and added value of such regulations. They do not understand why these rules and regulations result in excessive bureaucracy and considerable costs.

I have made an effort and looked at everything that has to do with cross compliance in greater detail, and I must honestly say that if you are a farmer and you are confronted with such a bundle of regulations, you just have to give up on the European Union in despair. We can’t continue like that.

I must admit: not everything that is said and written about Brussels and its over-regulation is correct. But, it’s not all just freely found and picked out of the air either. There are infringements against subsidiarity and there are bureaucratic regulations that are burden for those concerned. It’s not just the European Union that regulates too much, this is true for the regional level and the national level as well. We are looking at the European Union today and we are trying to see how we can protect the European Union against polemics. If this is what we want to do, we have to avoid unnecessary regulations and red tape.

The German Bundesrat, the Second Chamber, which is made up of the Prime Ministers of the sixteen Federal States, has lists of cases in which it has criticised in its own statements the non-compliance with the subsidiarity principle. Since the beginning of 2004, the Bundesrat has filed 30 complaints in that respect, often also criticising over-regulation. Normally, these are not complaints against an EU project as such but individual rules and regulations. Let me just give you a few examples:

Under the flooding directive the member states have to chart maps and come up with flood management plans for all the areas in the Community that are under danger from floods even if they are very small. This is, however, primarily a national task and according to the principle of subsidiarity EU regulations should be limited to cross-border areas requiring such regulation.

Subsidiarity is something which goes both ways. I am very much in favour of subsidiarity, but subsidiarity also means different rules, different regulations, it means a lack of equality. Today people want to regulate as much as they can themselves, but on the other hand they also want as much equality as possible and that is something which creates tension, which is not to be found in the concept of subsidiarity, and we must make it clear that subsidiarity means a regulation of small units, and thus also a kind of difference. As is the case in a federal system, which also implies that you are willing to be different.

The same holds true for town and country planning, for noise levels or for the way in which we plan for old age. There again, I think the European Union should not become active because these tasks can very well be done by the member states, the regions and the local authorities themselves.

Huge bureaucratic burdens for those concerned are caused by various other directives. I am a party leader of a major party and because of regulations against certain environmentally harmful substances, many members have left the party, and this has caused a lot of uproar. Obviously, Natura 2000 has highly positive objectives, but the implementation is very complicated in certain areas.

Especially the cross-compliance system introduced with the latest EU agricultural reform will lead to a further extension of bureaucracy for the various administrations and companies concerned. Bavaria will come up with concrete proposals how to simplify cross-compliance. We strongly believe that this topic should become a central issue during the German Presidency of the Council in the first half of 2007. As far as I see it, and I want to say this quite clearly, cross-compliance is an acid test as far as over-regulation in Europe and in the national governments is concerned. We want to turn this into a central issue because as I see it, this is one of the points where people will really have major problems. If a farmer wants to get subsidies from Europe, it means that he has to comply with a whole plethora of rules and regulations which would even create problems for trained legal experts, and as a trained legal expert, I know what I am talking about.

There is quite a lot of criticism against of the overburdening of enterprises and that really led to a number of changes during the negotiations. But, I think as far as the acceptance procedure is concerned, we are still facing major problems. Ladies and Gentlemen, the question is not: who did something? People don’t say that that was done by the Commission, this was done by the Council and that was done by Parliament. People see this was done by Europe and, generally speaking, they agree or disagree, they are happy or unhappy with the situation. If we have better regulation at European level, full compliance with the subsidiarity principle, I think this is essential if we want to increase the confidence of citizens in Europe. Therefore, it is in the interest of democracy of being close to our citizens, of being efficient and acceptable, to have legislation that is fully in line with subsidiarity and that is why at the beginning of the 90’s Bavaria was so much in favour of including the subsidiarity principle in the Treaty of Maastricht.

To fulfil as many tasks as possible close to the citizens, reinforces not only their possibility to exerting influence, but also means that the larger political decision-making powers can concentrate on the core tasks, an aspect which, especially in a considerably enlarged European Union, is becoming increasingly important.

But that is theory. What about practice? It is always tempting for the higher level to get as much competence as possible despite of the subsidiarity principle.

Of course, there are attempts to make sure that regulations which for whatever reasons cannot be established at the national level, can be implemented via the back-door of the European Union. That is certainly not something that is in line with the subsidiarity principle.

In the future we will have to make sure more effectively that the European Union concentrates on those tasks which can only be carried out by a common European policy and that means that it is necessary to change our attitude and to have a real culture of subsidiarity. If I say “we”, I mean the key players.

I am therefore particularly pleased that European Constitutional Treaty will strengthen the subsidiarity principle by introducing an early-warning system for subsidiarity review and by giving the national parliaments and the Committee of the Regions the possibility to appeal to the courts if they feel that the principle has not been complied with.

I think this early warning system is a very important tool and an early involvement of the national parliaments in EU law-making is of decisive relevance because that is the only way to ensure that national parliaments do not in the end have to implement rules and regulations which they consider to be wrong for good reasons. That is one of the decisive problems, that the big countries – maybe it’s different for the small ones – do not discuss these European rules and regulations sufficiently in the national parliaments and therefore there is no national public opinion. I think small countries do that far better, big countries sometimes have the impression that this is not necessary. We have to make sure that these national discussions are held before we have European decisions, so that people know that their voice is being heard. I have nothing against the European Parliament, but the European Parliament alone is not able to do that. It cannot create a national opinion, a national opinion can only be created by national parliaments and that’s why this early warning system in connection with the subsidiarity principle is so important. But, for that we do not need to change the Treaty, we can introduce that straight away. I would be very happy if the member states and the institutions of the European Union reached an agreement during the Austrian Presidency to the effect that this early warning system for subsidiarity in the European Union should and could be implemented without waiting for the Constitutional Treaty. It would be an essential contribution to regaining the acceptance and the confidence of our citizens.

Ladies and gentlemen, what is decisive for the new confidence of citizens in the European Union is a policy that promotes growth and creates jobs, and in this respect cutting red tape is a first priority.

For big companies such as BMW in Bavaria, for example, bureaucracy is a problem of costs. If you have 40, 50, 60 employees, 7 % of the output is the cost of bureaucracy, and that is a huge problem. Which is why we have to dismantle bureaucracy and if I say we that doesn´t go just for the European Union, it goes for everybody. I am very happy for the initiative for better law-making at European level and I would like to thank the Vice-President of the European Commission Günter Verheugen for his enormous commitment in this area which he has shown for many years now.

If we can really have a lean and simplified Community Law and a better assessment of the impact of each legal provision, the European Union, I think, can make a very important contribution towards strengthening the competitiveness of Europe. Simple rules is what we need, rules that avoid additional burdens for the citizens, for employers and employees. That is something which will create acceptance and strengthen the economy.

In cutting and avoiding red tape we must be as ambitious as possible. The aim should be to reduce the costs for the economy, for the citizens and for the administration as well, and to give a clear signal towards a comprehensive simplification of legal provisions. I know that this extremely difficult but absolutely necessary.

In view of the fact that there are many special interests and that people do not like to change things, this is an enormous challenge. But, we still have to live up to it at the level of the European Union as well as at the level of the member states and of the regions.

The new Federal Government in Germany focuses on cutting red tape and on deregulation. We really want to do this and we are striving towards it with all our force. In Bavaria we are already doing quite well. We have a central system of checking rules and regulations and we have already made some progress in reducing excessive regulation. But, I always have to say with every law we do away with, there is another law in another area. This is really a kind of Sisyphus work, but we nevertheless have to make a huge effort in that respect.

The effort to reduce bureaucracy at national and regional levels shouldn’t be counter-acted by excessive rules and regulations from the European Union. On the other hand, when implementing EU rules and regulations, the member states shouldn’t add additional rules and regulations of their own, which they then say came from the European Union. I think we all have to work in the same direction, to considerably strengthen the competitiveness of Europe. I think we all have to be courageous enough to leave certain things unregulated. Obviously politicians have a desire to regulate everything and everywhere. But I think we have too many rules and regulations. Sometimes this creates an enormous burden. Therefore  we have to be courageous enough sometimes not to regulate and to make it quite clear that in some areas non-regulation is the better solution.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me just make a few comments on the regulation assessment procedure.

The various experts responsible for a legal proposal shouldn’t be the only ones to carry out an impact assessment. In order to make sure that we are efficient we need a sort of reviewing control at the European level as well, which would look both at the necessities and burdens resulting from a rule or regulation.

Let me give you an example: the implementation of the fine dust directive. It’s a wonderful directive but in Germany we cannot implement it because we are just not able to comply with the set limits. I think this is not good because if you are unable to do so, this will raise doubts about the effectiveness of the policy. We have to think about it first and the question should be: is this rule that I want to come up with something that can be implemented and is it possible to implement it from the technical point of view as well? As regards important EU proposals, we want to bring in our own ideas, we want to assess the impact before things happen. In Bavaria we are responsible for the implementation of EU directives and that means that we have the factual knowledge and experience of our own administrative levels and we can really introduce those into the European decision-making process. In doing so, we want to contribute to a better EU legislation.

Ladies and gentlemen, especially the present situation clearly shows that European integration is not a perpetuum mobile, which will continue to move in the same direction or out of its own force when it has started to move. I think we will only be successful if we find the strength to correct developments that are going in the wrong direction and to correct the course of our actions.

Strenghtening the principle of subsidiarity, cutting red tape consistently and improving EU legislation are important steps in the right direction.

 

 

Date: 20.04.2006