About RegWatchEurope and the 2023 Presidency
The Swedish Better Regulation Council is a member of RegWatchEurope (RWE), an informal network of independent regulatory oversight bodies from eight countries. We work in different ways to promote better regulation at national and international level. The focus is traditionally on impact assessment work.
RWE has an annual rotating chairmanship and it has been decided that, to the extent possible, the RWE chairmanship should coincide with the EU chairmanship. As Sweden chaired the Council of Ministers for the first half of 2023, the Swedish Better Regulation Council was therefore chair of RWE for the entire year. This meant, in particular, considerably more international work than usual, both for me as chair, who formally represents RWE in various contexts, and for the staff of the Council Secretariat, who have assisted in the preparation and implementation of various activities.
Meetings with EU institutions
In May, I led the delegation that met with the vice president of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, and members of his cabinet to discuss current issues of the EU legislative process, including political commitments on a growth-enhancing regulatory framwork and regulatory burdens for companies. I and other representatives from RWE also participated in two scrutiny conferences organized by the Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB) of the EU Commission, which is the EU’s equivalent to the Swedish Better Regulation Council. The first was based on the findings in the RSB annual report for 2022, which focused on cost-benefit analysis, which RSB often deems deficient in the Commission’s impact assessments. The second conference raised challenges in the scrutiny of assessments of impacts on consumers and competitiveness respectively. I also participated in a panel at a major conference on better regulation, “Regulating Regulatory Decision-making”, which was organized within the framework of the official Swedish EU Presidency programme.
Seminars on innovation, ex post evaluation and EU legislation
We have also conducted several seminars during the year. Surveys carried out by e.g. the OECD show that many countries, for various reasons, not least political, lack processes for systematic evaluation of existing legislation. This holds true also for Swedish matters. Ex post evaluation was the theme for the first of five seminars organized by RWE during the year. Among the conclusions can be mentioned the need for a stronger connection between impact assessment ex ante and evaluation ex post, as well as the importance of oversight bodies to ensure high quality in both respects.
An innovation-promoting framework for strengthened competitiveness, growth and welfare has become an increasingly important political goal. Rules should promote, or at least not hinder, innovation. The legislative process, on the other hand, is affected by rapid technological – and legislative– innovation, where experimental legislation and regulatory sandboxes are increasingly referred to. But what do we mean by innovation? By innovation-friendly legislation? By experimental legislation? And how do we assess and scrutinize the impact of regulations on innovation, and vice versa? RWE organized two seminars on the theme of innovation and regulatory policy to probe deeper into these issues.
The fourth seminar organized during the Swedish RWE presidency dealt with scrutiny, implementation and evaluation of EU legislation and the various mandates and practices of the RWE bodies in various stages of the legislative process were discussed. RWE has also initiated a joint project, which focuses on a specific legal act, the EU data protection regulation, GDPR, and at the workshop, detailed arrangements for the implementation of that project were discussed. At the fifth and last seminar under the Swedish presidency, the different mandates and practices of regulatory impact assessment support to regulators in the different countrieswere discussed
In addition to representatives from the RWE bodies, representatives from other countries’ oversight functions, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the OECD also participated in the majority of conferences.
During the year, RWE adopted a joint opinion on the Commission Communication on EU long term Competitiveness. The opinion focuses on the section on how to achieve a better regulatory framework and concerns reflections on the competitiveness check, methodology for assessing cumulative impacts, the principle of “one in, one out”, reduced reporting obligations, evaluation clauses, implementation of EU legislation in Member States as well as key indicators to measure how objectives have been achieved.
RWE will also adopt a joint opinion on the Commission Annual Burden Survey 2022 before the turn of the year.
The Presidency 2024
During 2023, all board and secretariat meetings were held in Stockholm. Next year, when I hand over the gavel to my Dutch colleague and chair of the Advisory Board on Regulatory Burden, ATR, Marijke van Hees, these will be held in the Netherlands. My colleagues and I look forward to continuing the good cooperation in RegWatchEurope, which at its last board meeting on 12 December adopted an ambitious work program for 2024.
In conclusion, I would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
/Anna-Lena Bohm, chair of the Swedish Better Regulation Council