EU better regulation should not serve as smokescreen for deregulation

Giovanni La Via wants a clear, simple and effective regulatory framework that protects health, consumers and the environment.

By Giovanni La Via

07 May 2015

A key initiative of this European commission is the regulatory fitness and performance (Refit) programme. Refit aims to simplify and rationalise the EU’s regulatory framework so that it is straightforward, clear and predictable for businesses, workers and citizens.

Its purpose is to reduce bureaucracy, eliminate regulatory burdens, simplify and improve the form and quality of legislation, and to do all of this while fully respecting the treaties and, particularly the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

In its communication, the commission outlines the state of play and progress made so far in the implementation of Refit, while also proposing a series of new initiatives for further simplification.


Administrative and regulatory burdens have already been reduced in various sectors, for example through electronic invoicing of VAT or in matters concerning accountancy and financial information, as well as legislation on chemical products, patents, public contracts and road transport.

Parliament’s environment, public health and food safety (ENVI) committee - which I chair - recently expressed its opinion on Refit and reaffirmed some important political points. The EU certainly needs to reduce bureaucracy and eliminate superfluous regulatory burdens.

However, Refit should in no way serve as a smokescreen for deregulation under the pretence of ‘reducing bureaucracy’, especially when it comes to the environment, food safety and health.

This is why the commission was strongly criticised for its withdrawal of the waste package, though parliament has sought to understand the motivation behind this decision. MEPs are awaiting a new proposal on the circular
economy, which is expected to be published before the end of the year, and are ready to get to work in order to achieve a truly ambitious reform.

The ENVI committee opinion has also requested that nutritional profiles not be included in the planned European standards for regulating information provided on food labels, particularly promotional messages.

The ‘nutrition and health claims’ regulation required the commission to define by means of nutritional profiles which foods may be used in nutritional or health advertising claims, but six years after it was put forward, the commission has made no provisions along these lines.

I agree with the ENVI committee’s vote, because I believe that it is now too late for the commission to introduce the definition of nutritional profiles. It would also serve little purpose, given that consumers already have all the information on the nutritional value of food available on the market under the ‘food information to consumers’ regulation.

Refit touches upon other topics that fall under the ENVI committee’s competence, such as the withdrawal of the proposed soil directive, the proposal for access to justice in environmental matters, the ongoing Natura 2000 supervision of the protection of birds and habitats and general food legislation.

There is also the new valuation and supervision of carbon capture and storage, CO2 emissions from cars and light commercial vehicles and legislation on chemical substances, other than the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals regulation.

On all of these points the parliament, and more specifically the ENVI committee, wants a clear, simple and effective regulatory framework that is able to combine firm and robust protection of the environment, as well as the safeguarding of consumers and their health while being careful not to adversely affect the competitiveness of our businesses in these difficult times.


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