Glossary of summaries

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Simplification of legislation

EU legislation replaces 28 sets of national rules or aligns them with one set, thereby offering a more certain legal environment and one that is better focused on common objectives, along with a level playing field for business in the Single Market. Existing legislation has been essential, for example in establishing the EU's Single Market, developing EU environmental policy and setting EU-wide levels of worker and consumer protection. Regulations must be easily accessible and easy to understand to ensure compliance. The EU aims to keep regulatory burdens to a minimum to promote innovation, productivity and growth.

Simplifying legislation means rigorously applying the principles of necessity and proportionality. The exercise involves the simplification, codification, recasting and consolidation of legal texts, as well as repealing obsolete provisions. In 1996, the EU launched a pilot programme (Simplification of Legislation for the Internal Market - SLIM) which has since been followed by multiannual programmes to simplify and update EU legislation, such as the Commission's rolling programme for simplification, launched in 2005, which by 2012 resulted in the identification of more than 640 initiatives for simplification, codification or recasting. This was followed by the Administrative Burden Reduction Programme and its follow-up in EU countries ‘ABRPlus’, which reduced administrative burdens on business stemming from EU legislation by an estimated 25% by 2012.

The latest programme, known as REFIT (Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme) was launched in 2012. REFIT identifies opportunities to cut red tape, remove regulatory burdens and simplify and improve the design and quality of the legislation so that the policy objectives are achieved most efficiently and effectively, at lowest cost and with a minimum of administrative burden, fully respecting the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality set out in the EU Treaties.