The Prime Minister has presented an announcement on the implementation of the “simplification shock”.
The Government is determined to support businesses, in order to restore the strength of the economy and reduce unemployment. In order for this to happen, the business sector must become more competitive; hence the Responsibility and Solidarity Pact. However, achieving this objective also requires a simplification of the tax and regulatory environment in which businesses operate.
The complexity of administrative law and procedures acts as a brake on economic growth and on the dynamism of French companies, stifling their ability to innovate and to create employment. Its negative consequences are felt most by small and medium-sized businesses, which have fewer resources with which to address these consequences. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), this complexity costs the French economy 60 billion euros a year.
While the focus of modernisation must be on businesses, it must also focus on users. Indeed, the French public regularly expresses its expectations in the area of simplification, but also in relation to flexibility in administrative procedures.
The “simplification shock” launched in 2013 has already reduced the burden of regulations and procedures in a number of areas. A simplification programme containing more than 120 measures for businesses was adopted on 17 July 2013. More than 60% of these measures have been implemented, or are being implemented. Moreover, the Mandon-Poitrinal report contains a number of avenues to put in place what its authors describe as a “simplification factory”.
The Government will increase the speed and intensity of this simplification shock.
1/ In order to be effective, the simplification process cannot remain behind the closed doors of the administration. Each month, the Simplification Council, which was created in January 2014, gathers prominent figures from different backgrounds (large, small, and medium-sized enterprises, think tanks, local authorities, trade unionists, senior civil servants). Within 3 months of its creation, this council presented a first series of 50 proposals, which will be implemented between now and the end of 2014. The aims of these proposals are to secure the legal environment for entrepreneurs, rendering it more understandable and predictable, to make life simpler for business by way of specific measures, and to facilitate recruitment and training.
Steps have also been taken to simplify dealings between the administration and businesses. The aims of these steps are to make regulations easier to understand, and to reduce the time required to process requests from economic players. Project facilitators will be appointed in each department to resolve difficulties encountered in dealings with the administration. Collaborative workshops have been organised so that administrations can work directly with entrepreneurs on decisive moments for a business (the creation of a company, construction and equipment, recruitment and training, etc.). In addition, in the sector of housing, 50 measures to simplify rules and regulations have been formulated to accelerate the speed and reduce the cost of construction, while at the same time retaining the same quality requirements. These measures are currently being implemented.
After the law of 2 January 2014 authorising the Government to simplify procedures and provide security for businesses, a new draft enabling law will be submitted to Parliament before the summer and draft ordinances will be prepared this autumn. The “simplification mission” formulated with the Prime Minister will oversee the operation of this programme, provide support in the implementation of projects, and coordinate the evaluation of the same.
2/ The simplification of existing regulations should be accompanied by greater oversight of the flow of new regulations. The application of the “one regulation created, one regulation removed” moratorium in force since September 2013 will be strengthened: bills will now be subject to the same requirement. Reliable estimates of costs and savings generated by bills will be established.
3/ Each minister will be involved to ensure the success of the streamlining procedure, in particular in transversal actions. In particular, each minister will endeavour to implement the new principle (“administrative silence shall constitute approval”) that will enter into force in November 2014 for the central government, and in November 2015 for local authorities.
4/ Government services will be mobilised to promote simplification, so that the simplification of regulations becomes a reflex at the service of users, businesses, and individuals. However, this voluntarist approach to simplification must be extended to other countries in Europe, whose laws are a growing source of legislation. The main concern is to simplify procedures without compromising rights and protection.
Excerpts from the Council of Ministers