Thursday, March 17, 2005

An indigestible pudding?

There are occasions when reading commission documents when you have to do a double-take and wonder if their authors actually occupy the same planet as the rest of us.

Such an occasion arose reading the latest commission excrescence , another of its infamous COM finals, so new that it has not even been allocated a reference number.

This one is on Better Regulation for Growth and Jobs in the European Union, the subject of a major initiative in Brussels, flagged up by numerous news sources today, not least The Times

This newspaper’s report sports the headline: "EU aims to slay 'bureaucratic monster'", with Rory Watson in Brussels telling us that the EU commission has moved to shed its reputation as a “bureaucratic monster” by launching a campaign to cut the volume of legislation and regulation that flows out of Brussels each year.

The ambitious exercise, Watson writes, will involve simplifying and repealing some existing laws; carrying out in-depth assessments to determine the economic, social and environmental impact of new laws; and encouraging self-regulation by industry where possible.

Brussels, we are told, will also send a strong message to national governments not to "gold plate" EU directives by adding unnecessary administrative burdens.

The progenitor of this initiative is the enterprise and industry commissioner, Günter Verheugen, who has obviously been told that there is something amiss with the EU's regulatory system hence his statement that: "We all know that Europe's citizens view Brussels as some sort of bureaucratic monster." How very perceptive.

The commission, Watson asserts, intends to sift through all existing EU legislation, sector by sector, to decide where improvements can be made. Verheugen says that 900 separate Commission proposals in the legislative pipeline would be reviewed as well.

The CBI has given a "cautious welcome to the campaign". A spokesman said: "It is a positive move in the right direction" – as opposed to a move in the wrong direction? Adds the CBI, "but the proof of the pudding is in the eating."

We will have a detailed look at this "pudding" later today.

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