On 29 January 2019, Gibbels Public Affairs, on behalf of one of its clients, organised the Better Regulation Event with First Vice-President Frans Timmermans.
ESBA President David Caro opened the event and spoke to the audience about being a small business person himself and his own experiences with administrative and regulatory burden. It is the cumulative effect and sheer volume of rules and regulations that make it such a compliance nightmare for small business owners. The complexity of some regulations as well as unnecessary duplication of documentation requests by different institutions take away far too much time from running the actual business and creating jobs and growth. The Juncker Commission and, more specifically, First Vice-President Timmermans has made a real effort in reducing this by cutting back drastically on the number of legislative proposals that are tabled per year as well as executing fitness checks. It also created a Regulatory Scrutiny Board, in charge of testing proposals for unnecessary burdens before they hit the table.
Caro also stated, however, that we are not there yet. “There is definitely still room for improvement. One of our major concerns is the frequent use of exemptions for micro-enterprises from (parts of) new legislation. Whilst this may seem like an alleviating exercise, in practice it is often not and even has the potential to put micro-companies at a competitive disadvantage”, he said.
Anthea McIntyre MEP (UK, ECR) spoke about the need to alleviate burdens for small companies. She too is a small business person and knows where the shoe hurts first hand. In her capacity as leader of the ECR Better Regulation Working Group, she drafted a report, outlining how to improve the Annual Burden Survey, which is an excellent example of where Better Regulation could and should be headed.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who just got off a troubled flight from Helsinki, nevertheless gave a solid speech looking back on his Better Regulation agenda. Mr. Timmermans was right in addressing all the good things his Commission has achieved so far but was fair in accepting what still needs to be done. He took on board ESBA’s words of caution regarding overusing exemptions for micro companies.
Mr. Timmermans is invested in the agenda and also wishes for his legacy to be continued by the next Commission. ESBA fully supports this. Ms. McIntyre took a moment to officially present her Annual Burden Survey report to the First Vice-President. Ample opportunity was given to the audience for a what turned out to be a very interesting questions and answers session.