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Better Regulation: why and how

EU policies and laws adopted today will affect both citizens and businesses for generations to come. The Better Regulation agenda ensures evidence-based and transparent EU law-making based on the views of those that may be affected.

Objectives of the Better Regulation agenda

  • Ensure EU policymaking is based on evidence
  • MakingEU laws simpler and better, and avoiding unnecessary burdens
  • Involving citizens, businesses and stakeholders in the decision-making process

What the Commission is doing

The European Commission is responsible for planning, preparing and proposing new EU laws and policies. The work is guided by the annual Commission Work Programme. When proposing laws, the Commission is assessing their expected significant impacts. Strategic foresight is a key element in creating future-proof policies in all sectors, with particular focus on the green, digital, geopolitical and socio-economic areas.

The Commission is also responsible for evaluating EU laws and proposing improvements where necessary in policy reviews.

The Commission continues to monitor the implementation and application of adopted initiatives in the Member States.

Better regulation ensures transparent and efficient decision-making. Since 2021, the main highlights of the better regulation revised agenda include:

Improve public consultations by introducing a single ‘Call for Evidence’, on the revamped Have Your Say portal. The approach combines the feedback on roadmaps and inception impact assessments with the questionnaire of public consultations into one. It is translated in all languages.

Strengthening the Commission’s efforts to simplify EU rules and reduce unnecessary burdens, while achieving the benefits of legislation (REFIT programme) and by introducing the ‘one in, one out’ approach. This principle means that newly introduced burdens are offset by removing equivalent burdens in the same policy area. The Commission carried out an one-in, one-out pilot project in the second half of 2021, with ten legislative proposals covering a broad range of policy areas, impacting different sectors and stakeholders, to test the approach, its methodology and the related calculations. Building on the lessons learnt from the pilot, the Commission is now implementing ‘one in, one out’, starting with the 2022 Commission work programme.

Removing obstacles and red tape that slow down investments and building of 21st century infrastructure, by working with Member States, regions and local authorities as well as with key stakeholders in the Fit for Future high level expert group
Mainstreaming the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, to ensure that all legislative proposals contribute to the 2030 sustainable development agenda.
Improving the way in which Better Regulation addresses and supports sustainability goals and the digital transformation.
Integrating strategic foresight into policymaking to ensure it is fit for the future, by for instance, taking into account emerging megatrends in the green, digital, geopolitical and socio-economic contexts.

The Commission’s Better Regulation practices are recognised internationally by the OECD, and considered advanced among OECD members.

Learn more about the EU policy and law-making cycle.

Have your say process

Have Your Say – share your views and ideas

The Commission has been seeking evidence and feedback from citizens, businesses, and stakeholders at all stages of the legislative and policymaking process since 2015.You can share your views and ideas on Commission initiatives across all policy areas on the Have Your Say portal. It is possible to sign up for notifications regarding new developments as initiatives take shape, including after the adoption of legislation.

EU Law is in your hands

The Have Your Say portal


You contribution makes a difference

Contributions from citizens, businesses and stakeholders make a real difference to EU policies. They have guided and improved the Commission’s work on several important initiatives, such as the European Citizens’ Initiative, the European Solidarity Corps, the Common Agricultural Policy and our Guidelines for the energy efficiency of buildings.

Find out how the consultation process helped shape legislation.

Simplifying EU laws

The Commission is assessing the performance of existing EU laws and making changes where necessary to keep them fit for purpose.

  • The Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) programme was established in 2012 to make EU law simpler and to reduce unnecessary costs of regulation while still achieving their objectives. Potential for simplification and burden reduction is always considered when legislation is evaluated and revised. All revisions of EU legislation are included under REFIT and aim to achieve burden reduction and simplification.
  • The Fit for Future Platform, replacing the REFIT platform, was set up in 2020. It is a high-level expert group composed of representatives of Member States, the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee and stakeholders representing civil society, business and non-governmental organisations. The Platform also works with the SME Envoys Network and the RegHub. The Platform issues opinions to the Commission with concrete suggestions on opportunities for simplification, burden reduction and modernisation of existing EU laws.
  • Anyone can propose suggestions for the simplification of existing EU laws through the Have Your Say: Simplify! portal.
  • Evaluations and fitness checks are used to assess whether EU laws, policies and funding programmes are delivering the expected results at minimum cost.

Every year, the Commission presents an overview of its efforts on simplification and burden reduction in the Annual Burden Survey. It also monitors regularly how simplification and burden reduction opportunities are considered throughout the policymaking cycle in the REFIT scoreboard.

Ensuring Quality

The Better Regulation guidelines and toolbox will help provide concrete guidance to European Commission services when preparing new initiatives and proposals as well as when managing and evaluating existing legislation.

In 2015, the Commission has established the Regulatory Scrutiny Board, an independent body of Commission officials and experts from outside the Commission.  The Regulatory Scrutiny Board reviews impact assessments and selected evaluations. The Board publishes annual reports on what it has done to deliver on its mission.

Strengthening subsidiarity and proportionality

The principles of subsidiarity and proportionality are cornerstones of the EU treaties, and are systematically applied to the Commission’s legislative proposals.

With the subsidiarity principle, the Commission aims to only act where it is necessary and where it delivers clear benefits over and above measures taken at national, regional or local levels. Except in cases where the EU has exclusive competence, action at European level should not be taken unless it is more effective than action taken at national, regional or local level. A subsidiarity grid is attached to all politically sensitive and important initiatives accompanied buy an impact assessment.

Proportionality focuses on the financial and administrative impact of proposed legislation, to ensure that regulatory actions do not exceed what is necessary to achieve the legislative and policy objectives. Any such impact must be minimised and must be proportionate to the policy objectives. For the Commission this means delivering our ambitious policies in the simplest, least costly way, avoiding unnecessary red tape.

The EU institutions working together

Improving EU law-making is a shared objective and the responsibility of all EU institutions and Member States. The best way to improve EU law-making and deliver better results is for the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission to work more closely together in the coming years.

Given the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in our path to a sustainable recovery, it is crucial to legislate as efficiently as possible, with our future in mind. The effective application, implementation and enforcement of EU law is a priority for the von der Leyen Commission. The Commission can only determine the costs and savings associated with its own legislative proposals. Changes made during negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council may significantly alter impacts for people and business. As such, the Commission would welcome relaunched political dialogue to discuss ideas, so that that all parties can fulfil their commitments under the interinstitutional agreement on better law-making

The Commission will gradually make internal databases and repositories publicly accessible, in line with our data transparency policy. We will reach out to the European Parliament and the Council to set up a common evidence register, the Joint Legislative Portal, that will allow anyone interested in EU policymaking to find easily all the evidence underpinning a given initiative.

International regulatory cooperation

The EU is built on commonly agreed rules. For these rules to work, Member States must fully implement and enforce them in a timely fashion. They then need to ensure that the rules are correctly applied and enforced, because non-enforcement bears costs for citizens and businesses.

The effective application, implementation and enforcement of EU law is a priority for the von der Leyen Commission. As announced in President von der Leyen’s political guidelines, the Commission will continue to guide and support Member States in their efforts to transpose directives, implement regulations and apply EU rules properly. Compliance checks verify how Member States translate EU legislation into national legislation. To ensure effective dialogue in the transposition phase, we depend on the Member States for clear and precise information on national legislation.

Going forward, the Commission intends to carry out a stocktaking of its oversight and enforcement activities, to ensure that they remain fit for making EU law work in practice.


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