Better Environmental Regulation

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Better regulation improves and simplifies regulations
Source: fotogestoeber /

Better Regulation aims to simplify environmental law to make it easier to comply with and to understand. It should prevent burden on citizens, businesses and the state that are not necessary for enhancing the protection of the environment.

Improved environmental law is effective, enforceable and free of contradictions and unnecessary bureaucracy. The German Environment Agency strives to improve environmental law, for example through harmonisation and standardisation, without compromising an appropriate level of protection of the environment. Overarching codes like a general climate protection law or an Environmental Code can help to improve legislation in that way.

Part of Better Regulation is to cut bureaucracy, thereby reducing undue bureaucratic hurdles for citizens, businesses and public administration, which legal regulations can create. Both the German Federal Government, at national level, and the European Commission at European level have put programmes for Better Regulation into place.

The German Environment Agency aims to make environmental law more efficient and user-friendly by cutting bureaucracy and thereby raise acceptance among the public and private businesses. At the same time, the aims of environmental law must be taken into account and a high level of protection must be guaranteed. Environmental law that is both demanding and user-friendly, the goals of better environmental legislation and bureaucracy reduction can go hand in hand.

Key tool of Better Regulation and bureaucracy reduction are Regulatory Impact Assessments, which reveal the relevant impact of a regulation. The assessment addresses besides the compliance costs of a regulation its benefits for society as a whole. The German Environment Agency makes this clear in its position paper "Better Regulation through more Transparency in Regulatory Impact Assessments".

There is an ongoing debate at European level about the design of Better Regulation. Since the Commission Work Programme 2014 Better Regulation is a keypoint of the European Commission work. In April 2016 the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission reached an interinstitutional agreement on better law making. An initiative launched by the Netherlands and Great Britain in which Germany is also involved is developing proposals for how European environmental legislation can be improved to make it work better (cf Make it Work project). A network of civil society organisations reacted by creating a watchdog network.