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UK SMEs advise European Commission on better lawmaking process - smallbusiness|europe

01 August 2002, 16:18 CET

smallbusiness|europe on 31 July sent the European Commission's Secretariat-General a list of recommendations on how to ensure adequate consultation of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and other interested parties while drawing up new laws.

The paper, which is co-signed by the five leading SME membership organisations (1), represents a compelling, united response from the UK SME community to the European Commission's 'Better Lawmaking' package.

A growing percentage of new legislation originates from Brussels and smaller businesses are disproportionately affected by poor legislation. Ben Butters, Director of smallbusiness|europe, is encouraged by the Commission's package and stresses that timely, systematic and thorough consultation would lead to better laws.

"We have been critical of the Commission in the past, but this package represents a positive step towards a more inclusive and consistent approach to lawmaking at European level. However, as our response to the Secretariat-General highlights, we are concerned that the package does not go far enough, particularly in demonstrating how, in practical terms, these principals and standards for consultation will be enforced across the many different departments of the Commission."

Specific recommendations made by smallbusiness|europe and the five leading UK SME membership organisations include:

  • A longer consultation period: at least twelve weeks on proposed new policy initiatives;

  • The creation of an independent body to monitor and enforce consultation;

  • Mechanisms for appeal by interest groups if they consider that consultation has been inadequate;

  • Integration of all interest groups - whether European, national or sub-national into the consultation process.

Ben Butters added: "Poor laws often hit smaller businesses hard, which is why we are so keen to help the Commission in improving the way it exercises its power to initiate new legislative processes. But this is not just a business agenda - better lawmaking will benefit European society as a whole."

(1) The British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry’s SME Council, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Forum of Private Business and the Institute of Directors
(2) The paper is a response to the consultation section of the European Commission's 'Better Lawmaking' package (June 2002), entitled "Proposal for general principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission"

smallbusiness|europe is a Brussels based organisation representing the interests of all UK SMEs at EU level. It takes its mandate from UK SMEs, either directly or via the five main UK SME membership organisations and a variety of intermediary structures, such as trade associations and business support providers
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