Better Regulation

The EU and OECD

International bodies

European law is either directly or indirectly applicable in Germany. Indirectly applicable law does not enter into force until it is transposed by the national legislative actors.

Flags at Federal Chancellery

Flags at Federal Chancellery

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Hence, the Federal Government’s programme for Bureaucracy Reduction and Better Regulation also applies to EU legislative acts, such as European Directives which are transposed into German law.

The European Union and bureaucracy reduction

European legislation is either directly or indirectly applicable. In the case of indirectly applicable law, the European legislative act must be transposed into a national law before it enters into force. Accordingly, such law is covered by the Federal Government’s programme for Bureaucracy Reduction and Better Regulation. This is particularly important in the context of efforts to transpose EU Directives with the minimum possible compliance costs. In the case of directly applicable European legislation, such as EU Regulations, the Federal Government is eager, in negotiations within the EU framework, to ensure that the proposed legislation does not impose a heavy burden on citizens, businesses and administrative bodies in Germany.

The EU itself, however, is also seriously committed to better regulation. For example, thanks to a targeted action programme, the European Commission, according to its own information, cut bureaucracy costs by 25% in 13 selected legislative areas between 2007 and 2012.

With its smart regulation agenda, which dates from 2010, the Commission mapped out a comprehensive approach to better regulation. The system of impact assessments and consultations that the Commission conducts to prepare for new legislation, particularly to assess the implications of new provisions, is to be revised. In particular, the Commission intends to carry out systematic evaluations of the existing body of EU law and then enact new instruments only if the evaluation findings indicate that such legislation is necessary.

A practical and important first step in this direction is the Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) programme that the Commission presented at the end of 2012. One of the aims of REFIT is to examine the present body of EU law systematically for potential simplifications and bureaucracy reductions, with the primary focus on easing burdens for small and medium-sized enterprises. The simplification initiatives emerging from this programme were first incorporated into the Commission’s annual work programme in 2014. The Commission has also announced that the progress of these initiatives will be continuously monitored by means of a REFIT Scoreboard.

Following the elections to the European Parliament in May 2014, the new Commission officially started its term of office on 1 November 2014. The Commission is headed by the 28 member College of Commissioners, including the President and Vice-Presidents. The Commissioners, one from each EU Member State, provide the Commission’s political leadership during a 5 year term. Each Commissioner is assigned responsibility for specific policy areas by the President. For the first time in history, the new President of the European Commission has appointed a Commissioner in charge of Better Regulation. As the First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans will be responsible for coordinating the work on better regulation within the Commission, ensuring that every proposal respects the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. Germany will support his work and will keep calling on the Commission to make further use of instruments aimed at designing legislation which is fit for purpose and which imposes a minimum of compliance costs.

Involving the National Regulatory Control Council in EU legislation

On 8 October 2007, the State Secretaries responsible for European Affairs in the Federal Ministries decided that the National Regulatory Control Council (NKR) should also be involved in the examination of the implications for Germany of legislative drafts transposing European Directives into national law. To this end, the Federal Ministries and the NKR jointly adopted a procedure that entered into force on 1 December 2007. At the end of 2012, the State Secretaries for European Affairs of the Federal Government extended this procedure. Since then, the Federal Government, supported by the NKR, has not only been examining the administrative burdens arising from information obligations proposed by EU legislation, but has also been checking the ensuing compliance costs for citizens, business and the administration. This brings the process into line with the national procedure, whereby legislative proposals by the Federal Government must specify all compliance costs likely to be generated by the proposed legislation.

This EU ex ante procedure is designed to ensure that the Federal Government is clearly aware as soon as possible of any burdens that might arise from new EU legislation. On the basis of this knowledge, it can propose amendments to the Commission and at meetings of the Council of the EU.


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) regards the pursuit of better regulation as one of the three fundamental functions of the state, alongside monetary and budgetary policy. It therefore endorses the Federal Government’s intention to reduce bureaucracy and improve regulation.

Together with the European Commission, the OECD examined the policy and practice of better regulation in 15 Member States of the European Union. Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, presented the concluding report to Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel on 28 April 2010.

The OECD is a source of ideas for the Federal Government, and its recommendations have injected valuable impetus into the development of the Federal Government’s programme for Bureaucracy Reduction and Better Regulation. The central coordination of the programme in the Federal Chancellery, the cooperation and oversight provided by the independent National Regulatory Control Council and the quantified legislative impact assessments are some examples of those recommendations.

In October 2015 young people from Germany contributed to an international conference of the OECD about Inclusive Growth. Preparation and core messages are summarized in a short clip. For the reason that policy shall not be configured without young people their contributions shall be taken into account in political processes. The association Deutscher Bundesjugendring and the Federal Government support the involvement of young people in these processes by the project Ichmache> Politik|Demografie.