The REFIT programme is part of the Commission’s better regulation agenda. Under this programme, the Commission ensures that EU laws deliver their intended benefits for individuals and businesses, while simplifying existing EU laws and cutting red tape, whenever possible. The programme aims to make EU laws simpler, more targeted and easier to comply with.
Small and medium sized enterprises - representing 99% of all businesses in the EU - benefit particularly from REFIT as they can be particularly affected by burdens and complexity of the rules.
The Commission monitors regularly the progress under REFIT through the REFIT Scoreboard, which follows the REFIT initiatives throughout their life-cycle. The Annual Burden Survey presents yearly an overview of the EU’s efforts for simplification and burden reduction, including highlights of the main REFIT initiatives.
Better regulation: why and how
The EU's efforts to simplify legislation – 2019 Annual Burden survey
How REFIT works
All Commission proposals to change existing EU laws should aim to simplify and reduce unnecessary regulatory costs, while achieving the underlying policy objectives. The new ‘one-in, one-out’ approach will strengthen the REFIT programme, by extending the programme beyond the burdens from individual pieces of existing legislation to include also burdens from new legislation as well as managing the accumulative burden in each policy area.
- Impact assessments look at options available to deliver policy objectives in the most efficient way, therefore analysing the REFIT dimension.
- All evaluations and fitness checks investigate the potential to simplify existing EU laws and eliminate unnecessary regulatory costs.
- The simplification and burden reduction potential are quantified, whenever possible.
- The Commission presents the REFIT dimension in the explanatory memoranda of its proposals.
- The Commission work programme includes proposals for revisions and initiatives to evaluate existing EU legislation in its REFIT annex.
- The annual burden survey provides an overview of the REFIT activities in a given year.
Simplifying and reducing regulatory burden of EU laws is a shared responsibility that can only be achieved through a close cooperation of the Commission with the other EU institutions, Member States and stakeholders.
How you can contribute
As an integral part of better regulation, the REFIT programme is based on citizens’ and stakeholders’ input.
The Fit for Future Platform is being established to collect evidence and allow national authorities, citizens and stakeholders to provide targeted input to make EU laws more efficient.
Once the Fit for Future Platform becomes operational, it will seek input from citizens and stakeholders through a new ‘Have your say: Simplify!’ portal. Here, you will have the opportunity to make suggestions on how to simplify, reduce burdens and modernise EU laws.
You can also share your views on existing laws as well as new EU policies as they take shape via the Have Your Say portal.
- In its 2019 General report on the activities of the European Union, the Commission reported 162 REFIT initiatives to simplify and reduce regulatory burdens, in the period 2015-2019.
- The 2020 Commission work programme includes 44 main initiatives under REFIT.
Examples of potential benefits
- Financial policy: The 2019 amendments to the European Market Infrastructure Regulation will likely eliminate disproportionate costs for small financials, corporates and pension funds, and simplify rules without putting at risk financial stability. The impact assessment accompanying the Commission’s proposal for amendments estimated the potential savings from EUR 2.3 billion to EUR 6.9 billion in one-off costs and EUR 1.1 billion to EUR 2.66 billion in operational costs. (Regulation (EU) No 2019/834 of 20.05.2019)
- Energy policy: The Commission carried out a fitness check of reporting and monitoring obligations stemming from EU policy in the field of energy. Its findings have led to the adoption of a Regulation that streamlines reporting with an estimated potential for cost savings in the impact assessment of EUR 3.4 million. (Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 of 11.12.2018)
- Digital sector policy: The 2019 amendment of the rules regulating satellite and cable transmissions will likely simplify the clearance of broadcasters' rights to make some of their programmes available online in other Member States and for retransmissions operators providing their services via means other than cable. (Directive (EU) 2019/789 of 17.04.2019)
- Value Added Tax (VAT) Small and medium-sized enterprises(SMEs): Compliance costs for SMEs are expected to be reduced under this initiative to EUR 56.1 billion per year from EUR 68 billion per year today;
- Explosives precursors: a decrease of around 10% (between EUR 25 million and EUR 75 million per year) is expected in the current costs for companies of complying with the Regulation;
- Fisheries Control Regulation: Member States’ authorities are expected to benefit from cost savings of EUR 157 million over five years once the proposal is adopted;
- Single maritime window: It is expected that the proposed simplification will lead to estimated savings of 22-25 million staff hours in the period 2020-2030. This is equivalent to EUR 625-720 million for shipping operators;
- Service of documents: An increase in the speed of the cross-border service of documents and a decrease in the volume of default judgments by 10% in the EU. This would result in a saving of up to EUR 480 million per year, since citizens would have to spend less on judicial reliefs.
2020 – the Commission sets up the Fit for Future Platform building on the experience with the REFIT Platform
2017 – the Commission publishes the first Annual Burden Survey
2017 – the Commission enhances REFIT by ensuring that issues of simplification and burden reduction are always taken into account when legislation is evaluated and revised. All revisions of EU legislation are included under REFIT and strive, where possible to achieve burden reduction and simplification.
2015 – the Commission sets up the REFIT Platform; its mandate expired on 31 October 2019.
2015 – the Commission publishes a study (ABRplus) which examines how 12 measures from the action programme have been applied in the EU countries and to what extent the promised benefits have been achieved
2012 – by the end of the action programme, the Commission reaches its target of cutting by 25% the administrative burden for businesses stemming from EU legislation (estimated annual savings EUR 30.8 billion)
2007 – the Commission launches action programme to reduce administrative burden of EU regulation. High‑level group is set up to advise on implementation. Its recommendations include facilitating electronic invoicing and exempting micro‑enterprises from EU accounting rules.
2005 – Simplification rolling programme covers 164 measures for 2005-2009 and becomes part of the annual work programme
2002 – Better regulation programme is a first step in simplifying and improving EU legislation. It introduces obligatory impact assessments and stakeholder consultations for all new initiatives proposed by the Commission.
The EU's efforts to simplify legislation – 2021 Annual Burden survey
The EU's efforts to simplify legislation – 2020 Annual Burden survey
The EU's efforts to simplify legislation – 2019 Annual Burden survey
The EU's efforts to simplify legislation – 2018 Annual Burden survey
REFIT Scoreboard summary (2017)
REFIT Scoreboard summary (2016)
Commission communication on EU regulatory fitness (2012)
Action programme for reducing administrative burdens in the EU – final report
Final report of the high level group on cutting red tape in Europe – legacy and outlook