Special Issue on the Better Regulation Package ∙ How Much Better is Better Regulation?
Assessing the Impact of the Better Regulation Package on the European Union – A Research Agenda
Emboldened by the Spitzenkandidaten process, the new European Commission emerges as the most political yet. The Commission asks EU citizens to judge its operation by its ability ‘to deliver solutions to the big issues that cannot be addressed by the Member States alone’. The Better Regulation Package translates this political commitment into an actionable approach assuring EU citizens that the Commission will remain ‘big on big things, small on small things’. To deliver on this promise, the Commission extends the Impact Assessment system, renews its consultation procedures and adds a few institutional mechanisms so as to enhance its ‘ability to deliver’ throughout the policy cycle. But in order to do so the Commission needs to bind – and somehow control – the European Parliament and the Council, on the one hand, and the Member States, on the other, in relation to their commitment to openness, participation and evidence-based policymaking. While legitimate, this attempt raises serious doubts about the compatibility of this reform with the principle of separation of powers and, in particular, that of institutional balance. A closer look at the Better Regulation Package reveals an entirely new understanding of the Commission’s own prerogatives and the way it intends to exercise its legislative and regulatory powers. And this in spite of the apparent continuity between the new and old Better Regulation initiatives and the instruments it had chosen to attain the declared objectives. With a view to lay out a future research agenda on EU Better Regulation, this article identifies the most immediate questions raised by the publication of the Package and makes a first timid attempt at addressing some of them. It aims at determining how much better, if any, is the new Better Regulation Package. It does so by discussing, first, the major novelties enacted by the Commission within its own Better Regulation system and, second, those proposed in the framework of the IIA on Better Regulation.