Smart Regulation Smart Business

We have now had around 20 years of the commercial and social Internet where organisations and people alike have been able to embrace the full benefits of the online world.

But regulatory red tape still remains Enemy Number 1 for businesses wanting to grow and expand across the cyber economy. In my article earlier this week I revealed that the UK's regulatory burdens have increased again under the Coalition Government despite promises to stop the rot.

The European Union also needs to get a grip on the issue. Depending upon who you talk to between 30 and 70 percent of UK regulations originate in Brussels. This requires the UK to play a full proactive role in Europe if only to make sure we get good value for money.

Smart public administration

For what it's worth, I don't think we are. The European civil service is top heavy and still stuck in a bureaucratic, unsustainable time-warp. And as the open Internet becomes 'faster, stronger, higher' we require a smart public administration to respond quickly to the new and exciting challenges ahead.

'Smart' does not mean more civil servants, more quangos, more steering committees and more taxpayers' money wasted on changing departmental brands. Smart means creating laws and regulations at reasonable cost for the benefit of everyone. We want value for money.

Can the European Commission deliver? Problems with the Euro, failure of cross border e-commerce, political unrest and dynamic changes in technology might suggest that traditional laws and regulations are just not working anymore. Maybe self-regulation is a more trusted approach to meeting the economic challenges? It's no coincidence that Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding is proposing a new Data Protection Regulation and not a Directive - EU regulations are quicker to implement across member states!

Smart regulation

Reducing administrative burdens is part of the European Commission's smart regulation agenda - sustainable and inclusive growth as set out in Europe 2020. The Commission evaluates the impact of legislation during the whole policy cycle: when a policy is designed, when it is in place, and when it is revised. As smart regulation is a shared responsibility of all those involved in EU policy-making, the Commission works with the European Parliament, Council and Member States to encourage them to apply smart regulation in their work.

Smart business

E-invoicing, invoice automation, the Single European Payments Area (SEPA) and other digitised services are all part of the European Digital Agenda. The growth strategy highlights the importance of improving the business environment, including through smart regulation and the reduction of regulatory burdens, in order to make European enterprises more competitive at the global scale.

The Commission has recently launched a further initiative for minimising regulatory burden specifically for SMEs and adapting EU regulation to the needs of micro-enterprises, since SMEs play a key role in economic growth accounting for 99% of enterprises and providing more than two thirds of private sector employment.

Administrative burdens in some 72 legal acts which the Commission has targeted are estimated to cost business EUR To help make savings and reduce this burden, bureaucrats are proposing measures including:
  • a fully electronic VAT invoicing system (saving EUR 18.4 billion);
  • exemption of micro-SMEs (<10FTE) from accounting obligations (saving EUR 6.3 billion);
  • replacement of 26 marketing standards with a General Marketing Standard (saving EUR 970 million);
  • Digital tachographs (saving EUR 0.5 billion);
  • Increased use of self-certification in a procurement procedure;
This is all good work and great news for business. But I don't want to see any real monetary savings ploughed back into a civil service that seems just too big to reform.