Grundlag for erhvervs- og vækstminister Ole Sohns tale ved konferencen "Directors and Experts of Better Regulation” i København den 8. december 2011.
[KUN DET TALTE ORD GÆLDER]
First of all, a warm welcome to all of you here at this conference for Directors and experts of Better Regulation. I am very pleased to be invited to speak.
It gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you on some issues before Denmark takes over the EU presidency in January.
Firstly, I would like to touch upon smart regulation as a tool to help Europe overcome the current economic crisis.
Secondly, I would like to tell you about the Danish approach to smart regulation. How do we understand smart regulation? What have we done so far nationally? And what do we think is the right way to go in the future?
Thirdly, I will turn to a European perspective and my priorities for the Danish presidency.
[1: Role of smart regulation]
We are facing a number challenges in Europe. First and foremost is of course the current financial crisis that has put our financial system itself under pressure as well as leading to rising unemployment throughout Europe.
In dealing with this crisis, we must find a way out that creates jobs and growth all across the EU. Getting the economy back on track will be of benefit for everyone in the EU.
Smart regulation can be part of the answer when it comes to creating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as set out in the Europe 2020 strategy.
But at the same time we must keep in mind that smart regulation as a policy area is not an end in itself. The agenda has a higher purpose. The principles of smart regulation only result in added value when they are used in a targeted way to bring about overall policy goals, such as competitiveness and growth.
When smart regulation is put into practice we see considerable effects. More resources are set free for business to devote their time to core activities instead of doing unnecessary paper work.
And one thing we have to remember: A smooth business environment with few administrative burdens is key to creating an attractive business environment.
Doing business in Europe has to be simple. We have to understand that the level of burdens is an important parameter, and a key element in encouraging start ups and attracting foreign business.
In short, we must simplify while making sure that we do not put fundamental levels of protections at stake.
[2: Danish approach]
Secondly, I briefly want to point out some key principles of the Danish approach in this area - including our past and future actions in this area.
From a Danish perspective, putting end users at the centre of all policy development is crucial. In order to make good and efficient regulation, it is important to keep end users in mind and involve them at all stages of the policy process.
To make burden reduction relevant we have to ensure that it is actually felt by the end users. Therefore we must ask: How do they work, how do they think and what do they perceive as burdens?
Ultimately, it is the end users who must comply with the regulation. And a higher degree of compliance provides for a higher level of protection.
Successful smart regulation in practice is ultimately a win-win situation for both business and public authorities. When business and public authorities communicate in a simple and efficient way with one another it benefits both parties. This is what we in Denmark define as good public service.
One way of achieving this win-win situation in Denmark has been to strengthen the digital communication between businesses and public authorities.
It should be possible for businesses to carry out most if not all administrative matters electronically. This is to the benefit of all.
Think of the micro business where the owner may have to do a lot of the administrative work in the evening or during the weekend. Or think of the bigger company where reporting obligations must be done again and again.
It is the aim of the Danish government that all communication between business and public authorities should be digital by 2012.
Furthermore, efforts to reduce burdens in Denmark have been linked to a concrete reduction target over the past ten years.
From 2001 to 2010 the administrative burdens have been reduced by 25%, amounting to administrative savings of about 1 billion euro. This is considerable.
At the moments, we are currently defining a new national agenda for burden reduction towards 2015. At the heart of this agenda we have a strengthened end user focus.
As part of this, we will establish a business forum in order to point out the most burdensome areas together with business representatives and business organisations. Using this information, we will select areas where special efforts should be made. Concrete targets will be set for each initiative.
[3: European agenda]
Thirdly, during the Danish presidency, we will prioritise the smart regulation agenda by ensuring that its principles are being integrated in a number of legislative acts.
As Mr. Barnier said during the Council meeting Monday; we have to be careful not to make the issue of smart regulation burdensome in itself.
This means that we will deliver on the smart regulation agenda through the concrete acts in the Single Market Act which all aim at modernising and simplifying central single market regulation – to the benefit of growth.
The Single Market is a key driver for growth in the EU. We have a shared responsibility for keeping momentum and get EU back on the growth track in these difficult times.
The Single Market Act will be a priority for the Danish Presidency. We find it is now time to deliver on the concrete initiatives in the Single Market Act.
We are hoping to conclude or move forward on as many of the twelve key initiatives in the Single Market Act as possible as – from my point of view – they are all part of the smart regulation agenda. All files will hopefully ease the burdens on companies by creating smarter and more modern legislation.
We will especially give priority to:
· The public procurement directives
· The revision of the European standardisation system.
· The modernisation of the accounting rules.
· The proposal on venture capital
· The roaming
· And last – but not least - the patent reform, depending on the progress during the Polish Presidency, which efforts we support.
Furthermore the Danish Presidency will give priority to the digital single market.
The revision of the public procurement framework is a very important file for the Danish Presidency. We will focus on a simplification of the public procurement rules in the EU. In this way it is our aim to have more small and medium sized enterprises and micro enitities involved in cross border public procurement.
The public and private sector need to collaborate. To get there, we need to simplify procedures and increase flexibility. This will in turn reduce administrative burdens – and costs - for the public as well as the private sector.
In line with the importance that we attach to digital solutions, e-procurement will also play an essential role. The overall aim is to get simpler, more flexible and more transparent.
Another presidency priority with a clear link to smart regulation is the field of European company law. Here we will give priority to a modernisation of the European accounting rules.
There is big potential in the Commission’s revision of the accounting directives and we firmly believe that a modernisation will benefit the whole European business environment.
Furthermore the revision of the European standardisation system and hopefully adoption of the proposed regulation during the Danish EU-Presidency is also a priority. At the moment it takes too long time for standards to be developed. A more effective development and faster adoption of standards will make it easier for business to operate and access new technology in the single market.
Turning to the patent reform. This will also be of high priority for the Danish Presidency, if the Polish Presidency does not succeed in concluding it. The Polish Presidency has made great progress on the patent reform. A unified Patent Litigation System is essential to enhance growth and create jobs in Europe, as it will make it easier and cheaper for business to protect their patents throughout Europe.
And finally regarding the roaming file. A modern single market is digital. Today we use our phones for reading e-mails and for dealing with the bank, for example. This makes it easier running a business, and it should be possible at lowered prices across the borders in EU. The Danish Presidency is aiming at an agreement on the roaming file which will be of great advantage for business and consumers.
Concluding, I would like to reflect on the future of the smart regulation agenda in the EU.
I have stated the importance of integrating smart regulation principles in concrete legislation and mentioned a number of areas where Denmark will do this in the coming six months.
However, what we need just as much is to advance the fundamental principles of smart regulation further. But it is important that we now get concrete legislative results that deliver concrete administrative reductions for business
As I mentioned, in my mind there is no doubt that a specific programme like the Commission Action Programme has been crucial as a driver for change. Therefore, a strong focus must be continued after 2012 when the programme ends. I hope the Commission is ready to do this.
We need ambitions for the future. Much has been done but we can do more. And we must think broader than administrative burdens and commit to a more comprehensive approach to burdens. This will ensure improvements that are truly felt by businesses.
Good implementation and governance by Member States is also crucial. As you all know, and as we will hear more about from Dr. Stoiber.
Many countries have provided examples in the “best practice” report of the Stoiber Group. I believe that all EU Member States must do their utmost to learn from these examples and make use of them nationally where possible. We simply must exchange more examples of best practice to stimulate innovation and growth in society.
But when it comes to the future agenda we also need the Commission to show an ambitious way forward. We need the Commission to continue to place smart regulation high on the agenda.
We have many challenges ahead of us. As upcoming President of the Council I am committed to do my part to ensure and progress initiatives that can ensure a strong future agenda for smart regulation.