Better Regulation in Europe

2079-0368 (online)
2079-035X (print)
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This series of country reports launched by the OECD in partnership with the European Commission assesses the regulatory management capacities in the 15 original member states of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). This includes reviewing trends in their development and identifying gaps in relation to good practice as defined by the OECD and the EU in their guidelines and policies for Better Regulation.

Better Regulation in Europe: Belgium 2010

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01 July 2010
9789264087859 (PDF) ;9789264087064(print)

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This report maps and analyses the core issues which together make up effective regulatory management for Belgium, laying down a framework of what should be driving regulatory policy and reform in the future. Issues examined include: strategy and policies for improving regulatory management; institutional capacities for effective regulation and the broader policy making context; transparency and processes for effective public consultation and communication; processes for the development of new regulations, including impact assessment and for the management of the regulatory stock, including administrative burdens; compliance rates, enforcement policy and appeal processes; and the multilevel dimension: interface between different levels of government and interface between national processes and those of the EU. This book is part of a project examining better regulation, being carried out in partnership with the European Commission.

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  • Abbreviations and Acronyms
  • Country Profile – Belgium
  • Executive Summary
    The need to strengthen the economy and its competitiveness is reflected in policies to promote effective regulatory quality and management. The General Policy Statement of the federal Minister for Economy and Administrative Simplification of April 2008 specifies the modernisation of regulation as one of the actions to be undertaken to promote the competitiveness of the economy, and defines the elimination and simplification of regulations as strategic objectives. The Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels governments have also linked Better Regulation to their efforts to sustain economic competitiveness and development. Belgian enterprises have lent their strong support to these objectives. The Federation of Belgian Enterprises has underlined that tackling the volume, as well as the quality of regulations, is an "absolute necessity" for competitiveness.
  • Introduction: Conduct of the review
    The review was conducted by a team consisting of members of the OECD Secretariat, and peer reviewers drawn from the administrations of other European countries with expertise in Better Regulation.
  • Strategy and policies for Better Regulation
    Regulatory policy may be defined broadly as an explicit, dynamic, and consistent "whole-of-government" policy to pursue high quality regulation. A key part of the OECD’s 2005 Guiding Principles for Regulatory Quality and Performance is that countries adopt broad programmes of regulatory reform that establish principles of "good regulation", as well as a framework for implementation. Experience across the OECD suggests that an effective regulatory policy should be adopted at the highest political levels, contain explicit and measurable regulatory quality standards, and provide for continued regulatory management capacity.
  • Institutional capacities for Better Regulation
    Regulatory management needs to find its place in a country’s institutional architecture, and have support from all the relevant institutions. The institutional framework within which Better Regulation must exert influence extends well beyond the executive centre of government, although this is the main starting point. The legislature and the judiciary, regulatory agencies and the subnational levels of government, as well as international structures (notably, for this project, the EU), also play critical roles in the development, implementation and enforcement of policies and regulations.
  • Transparency through consultation and communication
    Transparency is one of the central pillars of effective regulation, supporting accountability, sustaining confidence in the legal environment, making regulations more secure and accessible, less influenced by special interests, and therefore more open to competition, trade and investment. It involves a range of actions including standardised procedures for making and changing regulations, consultation with stakeholders, effective communication and publication of regulations and plain language drafting, codification, controls on administrative discretion, and effective appeals processes. It can involve a mix of formal and informal processes. Techniques such as common commencement dates (CCDs) can make it easier for business to digest regulatory requirements. The contribution of e-Government to improve transparency, consultation and communication is of growing importance.
  • The development of new regulations
    Predictable and systematic procedures for making regulations improve the transparency of the regulatory system and the quality of decisions. These include forward planning (the periodic listing of forthcoming regulations), administrative procedures for the management of rule-making, and procedures to secure the legal quality of new regulations (including training and guidance for legal drafting, plain language drafting, and oversight by expert bodies).
  • The management and rationalisation of existing regulation
    This chapter covers two areas of regulatory policy. The first is simplification of regulations. The large stock of regulations and administrative formalities accumulated over time needs regular review and updating to remove obsolete or inefficient material. Approaches vary from consolidation, codification, recasting, repeal, as hoc reviews of the regulations covering specific sectors, and sun setting mechanisms for the automatic review or cancellation of regulations past a certain date.
  • Compliance, enforcement, appeals
    Whilst adoption and communication of a law sets the framework for achieving a policy objective, effective implementation, compliance and enforcement are essential for actually meeting the objective. An ex ante assessment of compliance and enforcement prospects is increasingly a part of the regulatory process in OECD countries. Within the EU's institutional context these processes include the correct transposition of EU rules into national legislation (this aspect will be considered in Chapter 7).
  • The interface between member states and the European Union
    An increasing proportion of national regulations originate at EU level. Whilst EU regulations have direct application in member states and do not have to be transposed into national regulations, EU directives need to be transposed, raising the issue of how to ensure that the regulations implementing EU legislation are fully coherent with the underlying policy objectives, do not create new barriers to the smooth functioning of the EU Single Market and avoid "gold plating" and the placing of unnecessary burdens on business and citizens. Transposition also needs to be timely, to minimise the risk of uncertainty as regards the state of the law, especially for business.
  • The interface between subnational and national levels of government
    Multilevel regulatory governance - that is to say, taking into account the rule-making and ruleenforcement activities of all the different levels of government, not just the national level – is another core element of effective regulatory management. The OECD’s 2005 Guiding Principles for Regulatory Quality and Performance "encourage Better Regulation at all levels of government, improved coordination, and the avoidance of overlapping responsibilities among regulatory authorities and levels of government". It is relevant to all countries that are seeking to improve their regulatory management, whether they are federations, unitary states or somewhere in between.
  • Bibliography
  • Annex A: Competence distribution across Belgian authorities
  • Annex B: Kafka Test Template
  • Annex C: SDIA procedure: Form used for SDIA screening
  • Annex D: E-depot
    The "e-depot" system, which allows transactions via a notary to be processed electronically, was implemented in March 2007. The transformation of a paper-based process into an electronic process has reduced the time needed for completing the formalities for registering the creation of a company, from up to 56 days in 2004 to 3 days. Several minutes after the deposit, the notary receives the new company registration number which can then be electronically activated by the starting entrepreneur in any of the ten accredited enterprise offices in the country, and the new company can commence operations.
  • Annex E: Policy statement of the Flemish Government 2009-14 – Administrative Affairs
    Working on a Flemish public administration which combines efficiency and effectiveness with a well-performing and high-quality service is more than ever a priority. This poses a huge challenge for the horizontal policy areas, and most certainly for the administrative affairs policy area.
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