This Working Paper provides a clear but critical assessment of the EU’s process of simplification and qualitative improvement of the ‘acquis’, a process originally known as ‘Better Law-making’, subsequently as ‘Smart regulation’ and, in its latest incarnation, as ‘Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT)’.

In a first part, the paper examines the behaviour of the different actors in relation to the relatively recent practice of Impact Analysis of elements of EU legislation and the reduction of administrative and regulatory burdens. In a second part it looks at the new REFIT exercise (Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme) in an effort to ascertain how far this new agenda item represents a continuation of earlier ones and to what extent it signals a new departure.

The paper concludes that the smart regulation agenda has generated a creeping bureaucratisation of the process, in the course of which political decisions have gradually forfeited their legitimacy in favour of ‘the expert’.

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