On 7 March, the Commission announced its plans to "ease the top 10 most burdensome EU laws for SMEs". The EU executive said it planned to do this through the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) launched in December 2012.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso believes that business growth, especially among SMEs, is being held back by overly-complicated or outdated EU directives and regulations. It has been his battle cry for some years through the "Better regulation" and "Smart regulation" programmes to overhaul Community legislation. But, as the ETUI has pointed out in several reports, the measures claimed to promote economic development, and hence job creation in Europe, could put some labour and employment rights on the line.
On 7 March, the Commission confirmed its moves by flagging up plans to "ease the top 10 most burdensome EU laws for SMEs". The EU executive said it planned to do this through the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) launched in December 2012.
"Through this programme, the EU's regulatory acquis is being screened for burdens, gaps and inefficiencies in order to evaluate and if appropriate revise those laws where the assessment points to a need for action", heralded a Commission press release. The Commission will announce follow-up actions by June 2013.
The Commission has identified those laws that are holding back SMEs through an online questionnaire which was answered by some 1000 businesses and professional organizations. From these responses, the Commission has drawn up a "top 10 most burdensome EU laws”. Its hit parade includes nothing less than the REACH Regulation, one of whose aims is to better protect the health of European citizens against chemicals, and the Working Time Directive which gives workers a guaranteed right to rest.