Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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​Better regulation - 14.07.2021

The EU promises more transparent and collaborative lawmaking: what does it mean for for local and regional governments?
Today about 60% of a mayor’s political agenda is influenced by European legislation. It is therefore crucial to ensure that EU rules do not add unnecessary administrative burdens to local governments and can be effectively implemented without additional costs.

With its agenda on Better Regulation, the EU executive aims to make progress in future law-making by focussing on more transparent and evidenced-based policy processes for improved  outcomes. How? For instance, by enhancing impact assessments and introducing a “rural proofing” mechanism in EU legislation to analyse any potential impact on rural jobs, growth and sustainable development. 

To ensure the EU’s recovery, we need improved European lawmaking able to respond to tomorrow's challenges. Last April, the European Commission made an important step forward in this direction with the adoption of a recent Communication on Better Regulation. Here are some of the issues at stake for local governments.

Better involvement of local governments and other stakeholders

The Commission created the Fit4Future platform in 2020 to receive input on how to simplify EU laws and reduce administrative costs. The platform brings together the expertise of those in charge of implementing EU legislation (public administration, social partners, businesses, technical experts, consumers and NGOs) to share their ideas on how to achieve this.

Cities and regions have a prominent role to play on the platform, notably as represented through the Committee of the Regions. The Commission promises to better distinguish the contributions of different types of stakeholders (such as local governments), to swiftly respond to feedback to consultations and to "more accurately reflect the input of local, regional and national authorities."

More transparency on the evidence behind EU law-making

The Commission proposes the creation of a common evidence register: the Joint Legislative Portal, which would provide easy access to all the evidence underpinning every EU initiative. This new tool would allow more effective communication between policymakers at EU and national level, as well as fostering evidence-based policies. The creation of this Portal responds to previous calls by CEMR for more transparency in legislative processes to enable local and regional governments to follow more easily the preparation and amending of draft legislation.

The SDGs will guide EU policy-making

The Commission is intensifying its efforts to anticipate future challenges that Europe will face and how policymaking needs to respond to these challenges. As a result, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will become the new reference framework for assessing ‘ex-ante’ the sustainability of all legislative proposals. The Commission will identify the relevant SDGs linked to each of its proposals and examine how the initiative will support the achievement of the SDG(s) concerned. 

This is great news for local and regional governments across Europe, as many of them have already been using the SDGs for some time now as a way to support more joined-up policymaking, in pursuit of carbon neutral economies.

With this Communication, the Commission aims to take into account the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the COVID-19 recovery and the need to legislate as efficiently as possible, with an eye to the future. And the best way to do it is by ensuring that all key stakeholders "work together on high-quality EU policymaking that will translate into a stronger, more resilient Europe", according to Maroš Šefčovič, EU Commission Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight.

Let's hope this collaborative vision becomes a reality for Europe's local governments and citizens!
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