Arguments and Positions

Bureaucracy Reduction and Better Regulation

Arguments and Positions

An efficient and effective shaping of regulation ensures that as little bureaucracy as possible is caused. This cuts costs, improves competitiveness for companies and thus enhances the quality of Germany as an industry location overall, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In November 2019, the federal government adopted the bureaucracy reduction act (Büro-kratieentlastungsgesetz) III. However, for industry both content and scope of the act are a bitter disappointment. Industry's proposals were barely taken into account, and with a three-day deadline the hearing of associations turned into a farce.

The federal government's existing work programme "Better regulation and bureaucracy reduction 2018" includes 50 measures for the said purposes. It remains to be seen to what extent these proposals will be implemented.

It is worth noting that frequently not the act as such but its implementation causes burdens. This could be remedied by increasing the number of administrative personnel and by the (still poignantly lacking) digitalisation of the public sector. An all-area, user-friendly online offer of all major public services has not been brought about so far.

NKR examines efficiency and compliance costs

The Regulatory Control Council (Normen-kontrollrat/NKR) examines new draft regulation as to whether the generated bureaucracy costs are necessary and whether the least costly option has been chosen. Moreover, since 2011 the federal ministries need to list comprehen-sively – for new draft regulation – all the costs that follow for industry, the general public and the public administration and submit them to the NKR for position-taking.

From the NKR's perspective, there is an urgent need for action regarding the following topics: digital government, replacing the SME test by a practice check, stronger participation of associations and stakeholders in legislation and evaluation.

For quite some time, another point of criticism has been that currently European burdens and burden-easing measures as well as one-off compliance costs are not included in "one in, one out" stocktaking. The EU Commission's efforts to establish a "one in, one out" rule at European level are welcomed.

EU agenda on "Better Regulation"

Von der Leyen should consistently further pursue the reform steps towards more trans-parency, more participation options, and a more intensive impact assessment in EU legislation.

For the future, it is important to consistently implement the "evaluation first" principle: Initially, existing legislation needs to be evaluated before considering a new legislative proposal and expounding potential political options in an impact assessment. The latter has to be updated based on the final legal text, so that it can become a reference point for later evaluations and for strengthening the respon-sibility for results of the EU institutions.

Impact assessments can help make EU legislation fit for the future. The Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB), which contributes to ensuring the quality of evaluations and impact assessments, should be strengthened.


  • Pursue bureaucracy reduction in a holistic approach
    All costs for industry should be taken into account in bureaucracy reduction. This is the only way to noticeably ease the burdens on industry.
  • Resort more intensively to industry's competence
    The earliest possible involvement of industry is important, in order to realistically assess the impacts of legislation and other provisions.
  • Further drive forward better regulation at EU level
    All institutions should consistently further drive forward the EU agenda on "Better Regulation", and the "one in, one out" rule should be brought to life. At the latest Germany’s Council Presidency should be used to give it an effective shape.

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Angelika Becker