President Barroso and Edmund Stoiber call on Member States to step up efforts to cut red tape for SMEs and improve the efficiency of their public administrations

Today, President Barroso discussed ways of boosting growth and jobs with the High Level Group on Administrative Burdens, chaired by Dr Edmund Stoiber, the former Minister-President of Bavaria. By cutting red tape on an EU level the Commission is helping businesses, in particular small businesses, to focus their resources on core activities instead of spending time and money on unnecessary paperwork. In addition, the Commission cooperates closely with Member States to share best practice in implementing EU legislation, as up to a third of the administrative burdens on businesses deriving from EU legislation stem from the national implementation of EU requirements.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: „Within the past five years the Commission has initiated measures that reduce red tape for EU businesses by up to €32.3 billion a year. We need to cooperate closely with Member States to ensure that these savings bring real relief to businesses. In early October, the Commission will present the next steps for making EU legislation fit for purpose and reducing the burden for companies, in particular, SMEs. These efforts are essential to put Europe back on track and generate more growth and more jobs.“

The Chairman of the High Level Group on Administrative Burdens, Dr Edmund Stoiber, expressed satisfaction with the European Commission’s initiative on administrative burden reduction and said: „It is a considerable success that the ambitious reduction target of 25% has been exceeded, reaching 26.1%. With this impressive achievement, enterprises in Europe are facing €32.3 billion less in administrative burden. It is however even more important for the future that the mentality inside the Commission has been changing, so that internally the bureaucratic impact of each of its proposals can be examined and taken into account.“

During today’s meeting with the High-Level group, President Barroso pointed to the successful completion of the EU Action Programme for reducing administrative burdens, and thanked the group for its support. The 25% reduction goal of the Action Programme has been achieved and exceeded with the adoption, to date, of measures worth €32.3 billion (26.1%) by the European Parliament and the Council. Measures include the switch to a fully electronic VAT invoicing system and reducing the number of companies that need to provide data for intra-EU trade statistics. The latest initiative, adopted in June this year, further simplifies accounting rules for small companies (with max. 50 employees), with an estimated annual savings of about €1.5 billion.

President Barroso emphasised that the Commission is driving the smart regulation agenda with itsRegulatory Fitness Programme (REFIT), launched in December 2012. In the past six months, the entire stock of EU legislation has been screened to identify further possibilities for simplification and burden reduction, with a particular emphasis on reducing regulatory burdens for SMEs. The Commission is already taking action on the Top 10 most burdensome EU laws identified by SMEs and business organisations in a broad consultation from October to December 2012. REFIT is also following up on the Administrative Burden Reduction Programme to see if the legislation is being implemented in the Member States in a way that brings real relief for businesses.

Mr Stoiber urged the Council to follow the example of the Commission underlining that while the European Parliament is building up an impact assessment unit, there is no such bureaucracy-check in the Council. If the EU is serious about the fight against excessive administrative burden, this must change. Furthermore, Mr Stoiber strongly criticised Member States because some of them lack ambition and do not use the many opportunities to reduce the administrative burden offered by the EU. This has to improve according to Mr Stoiber and needs to be pointed out clearly by Commission and Parliament in their contacts with the concerned countries.


The Commission’s efforts to reduce the regulatory burden, including the administrative burden, are part of its smart regulation agenda. Smart regulation aims to ensure that European laws benefit people and businesses in the most efficient and effective way possible. The Commission is committed to strengthening its various smart regulation tools (impact assessments, evaluations, stakeholder consultations) and launched, in December 2012, the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT), building on experience in evaluating and reducing administrative burdens. Through REFIT, the Commission’s services have mapped the entire stock of EU legislation to identify burdens, gaps and inefficient or ineffective measures, and possibilities to simplify, reduce or repeal them. Within REFIT, the Commission puts particular emphasis on minimising regulatory burdens, specifically for SMEs (including the SME test, the Top 10 most burdensome EU laws for SMEs, the scoreboard on results, the SME Envoy Network).

The High Level Group on Administrative Burdens advises the Commission on the administrative burdens placed on business. The group consists of 14 members, seven of which joined the group this year following a public call for applications. Under its new mandate of 5 December 2012, the group will continue its work until 31 October 2014. Work will focus on reducing the burden for SMEs and following up with Member States on the effective implementation of measures adopted under the Action Programme for Reducing Administrative Burdens in the EU, since benefits will not materialise until the Action Programme is successfully implemented. The group regularly invites small business owners to discuss challenges in their daily lives. In addition, it exchanges views and experience on burden reduction issues with commissioners and the Commission services, including with Commissioners Andor, Barnier, Cioloş, Geoghegan-Quinn, Kallas, Oettinger, Potočnik and Šemeta.

Further information:

MEMO/13/786: „Commission initiatives to cut red-tape and reduce regulatory burden – Questions and Answers“

MEMO/13/787: „The High Level Group on Administrative Burdens – Questions and Answers“

Visit the Commission’s website on smart regulation:

Visit the High Level Group’s website