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European Law Monitor newsVP Verheugen: Tell us if red tape makes your life difficult via new website

The European Commission has launched a new website, , to enable entrepreneurs to suggest ideas for how to reduce the administrative burdens they face. Together with the launch of the online consultation European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen also announced that a contractor has been entrusted with measuring the administrative costs arising from European legislation and their implementation at national level. As announced last week, a high level group of stakeholders • to be chaired by Edmund Stoiber after he steps down as Bavarian Prime Minister - will advice on the ongoing work under the Action Programme for reducing unnecessary burdens (IP/07/1339).

Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: "I fully welcome the launch of this new website. The need to spend time fulfilling administrative requirements reduces the time available for entrepreneurial initiative. We need to consult and learn from those who are facing EU legislation in their daily work as they are best placed to highlight those administrative obligations which are the most time consuming and which could be simplified. We can only reach our ambitious objective of cutting 25 % of administrative costs by 2012, if we can rely on the help and advice from businesses, stakeholders and Member States."

The new website will be available in all EU languages and follows the examples of similar online questionnaires in Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Portugal. Reports on complaints and ideas received will be regularly published on the same site.

Expert input from small and large businesses, consumer organisations, trade unions and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO's) will be sought with the help of the newly created High level group of independent stakeholders on administrative burdens, which is to be led by Mr. Edmund Stoiber. The Group will have up to fifteen members and has a three year mandate.

Meanwhile, the action programme for reducing administrative burdens announced by the Commission in January 2007 continues to make the life of economic operators easier. To alleviate the burdens on businesses immediately, ten so-called 'fast track actions' have been tabled and almost half of them have already been adopted.

Measurements of administrative costs

The Commission • like most of the Member States having conducted similar exercises • has chosen to outsource the actual measurement of administrative burdens to a consortium composed of Cap Gemini, Deloitte and Ramboll Management. As a first step, the contractors are mapping obligations that EU legislation currently puts on business to provide information. . The consultants will also examine how these EU requirements have been transposed in national legislation in order to identify "gold plating" (i.e. when Member States have decided to go beyond what is required by the EU). The result should be available by the end of 2007.

Once the mapping done, the consultants will interview businesses throughout the EU to assess the amount of time and money they spent as a result of these requirements. This process is expected to be finalised late 2008.

The analysis will make it possible to put a price tag on the most burdensome information obligations and provide useful ideas for proposing subsequent reductions of the burdens. The Commission will continuously analyse these suggestions and adopt executive measures or present legislative proposals as appropriate.

Better Regulation - Administrative Burdens Reduction • online consultation: