Debating Burden Reduction at the EU level as a Condition to Avoid “Brexit”


British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to renegotiate the UK’s relations with the European Union. The renegotiation will be followed by a referendum by the end of 2017, to decide whether or not the United Kingdom should remain in the EU.

In November 2015 Cameron formally set out his demands in a letter to the president of the European Council Donald Tusk saying that the objective of boosting competitiveness by setting a target for EU burden reduction lies at the heart of the UK’s renegotiations.

On 2 February 2016 Tusk set out a proposal for a new settlement for the UK within the EU in a letter to the Members of the European Council who are meeting on 18-19 February 2016 for a summit on British membership renegotiation. In order to facilitate negotiations, the proposal includes a draft Decision of the Heads, together with a more detailed European Council Declaration on competitiveness and a draft Commission Declaration on a subsidiarity and burden reduction implementation mechanisms, setting out the commitment to lower administrative burdens and compliance costs on economic operators, especially small and medium enterprises as well as repealing unnecessary legislation, while continuing to ensure high regulatory standards.

According to the European Council Declaration on Competitiveness, the focus must be on:

  • better use of impact assessment and ex-post evaluation throughout the legislative cycle, at the EU and national levels;
  • establishing where feasible burden reduction targets in key sectors, with commitments not only by EU institutions but also by Member States;
  • an annual review of EU’s efforts at simplifying legislation which will include an “Annual Burden Survey” in support of the Commission’s REFIT Program.

Further, the Commission will establish a mechanism to review the body of existing EU legislation for its compliance with the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality, building on existing processes and with a view to ensuring the full implementation of this principle. The Commission will draw up priorities for this review taking into account the views of the European Parliament, the Council and the national parliaments.

Finally, it should be noted that in the current debate on Brexit the costs of EU regulation for Britain have been called into question.

(Fabrizio Di Mascio)

Photo credits: Getty Images