The European Commission aims to draw lessons from the two year implementation of the Smart Regulation Agenda and on how to improve the quality of legislation through a stakeholder consultation which closed on September 21. Building on EPHA’s previous position on Smart Regulation, EPHA responded to the Commission Consultation. Smart regulation should mean well thought out through, effective and proportionate measures to protect health, improve the quality and safety of goods and services and help move faster towards a more equitable green economy.
EPHA calls for a re-definition of smart regulation to mean fair, transparent, evidence based, accountable, citizen-centred policy making that brings tangible benefits to men and women in Europe and improves their quality of life.
The primary objective of the Smart Regulation Agenda should be enshrined in the Treaty of the European Union, in order to achieve the European Union’s aim of “promoting peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples” as outlined in Article 3.1. We are concerned that the current implementation of the Smart Regulation agenda often leads to undermining of Article 3.1 and can in fact lead to harming population health.
In its consultation response, EPHA highlights the importance of meaningful dialogue with civil society organisations to fully realise the potential for civil dialogue. This includes open consultations for all EU initiatives, including Impact Assessment, and recommends a review of the Minimum Standards for Consultation developed in 2002.
In our view, the current approach to improving legislation puts too much emphasis on conditions to improve competitiveness in economic sectors without due attention to the public interest, including health and well-being. We do, however, recognise the need for a robust economic sector that is able to contribute to a healthy economy. We also challenge the orthodox approach which does not deliver this goal while undermining others.
EPHA recommends that the European Commission speeds up the development of multiple indicators to measure progress and development that go beyond the inadequate measure of GDP. Likewise the impact assessments conducted by the Commission should take into consideration social and health concerns. Currently the methodology exists, but Health Impact Assessment is not conducted systematically.
Increasing transparency on how decisions are taken is necessary to gain confidence and trust in policy makers, and in the European Institutions, particularly at this uncertain time. Stakeholders’ involvementis a necessary part of policy making and smart regulation. The far-reaching and equal access of all stakeholders is a crucial element to ensuring a real democratic and legitimate policy making process. EPHA calls for balanced representation of interests be guaranteed in the smart regulation process.
EPHA would also like to point out that simplifying legislation should not lead to lowering the standards laid down in current or past legislations, especially when it relates to protecting the health of people. We argue that high standards of European legislation drive confidence in emerging markets in European products and services. We therefore urge the European Commission to strongly reconsider the use of self-regulatory instruments when regulating on legislation impacting on health: the health of the population should always prevail over businesses’ interests, in order to meet the commitments enshrined in the Treaty.
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