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Subsidiarity and better regulation

 

Barroso, Schüssel, Verheugenbka_aussen_aufnahme300eugh

 

The third part of the conference will examine the contribution the current better-regulation initiatives and projects in the context of the European Union can make to compliance with the subsidiarity principle. Efforts to improve the regulatory environment have also been the theme of previous presidencies. In addition to clearer, more comprehensible and shorter regulations, this subject also concerns the examination in principle of the need for a given regulation and/or the repeal of existing regulations. These initiatives also include an impact assessment of planned legislation and measuring the administrative costs imposed by EU regulations.

What is better regulation?

I. European Commission initiatives

The European Commission is currently engaged in important initiatives to trim the existing body of EU legislation in the context of better regulation. These include the programme to simplify existing EU legislation and the screening initiative.

The former concerns a three-year plan for systematic simplification of existing Community law, while the screening initiative relates to the modification or withdrawal of proposals pending before the European Parliament and the Council, i.e. at the gestation stage.

The Commission has revised its impact assessment guidelines in order to take better account of the consequences of future regulations. Furthermore, a common method for assessing the administrative costs imposed by EU regulations is being developed to reduce the financial burdens on business and citizens.

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II. The role of the European Court of Justice

The extent to which Community competences are exercised has repercussions on subsidiarity. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has an important role in this context, as it ultimately decides whether the Community has competence in a particular matter. The conference will therefore also consider the extent to which the ECJ can contribute through its jurisprudence to a more efficient application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

There is criticism in many quarters that the case law of the ECJ is very reticent on the subject of the subsidiarity principle. The enforceability in practice of the subsidiarity principle will therefore be a key question. Is there scope for creating a judicial review function in subsidiarity disputes? What are the limits to judicial control in this area? Can the judicial review of the compliance of legal acts of the Union with the subsidiarity principle be carried out on the basis of objective criteria and be more than a mere “abuse control”? Another question related to this concerns the extent to which greater control of the subsidiarity principle by the ECJ could lead to more effective application of that principle in Europe.

 

Date: 20.03.2006