Complaints are often aired about the red tape created by European law. We want to cut red tape. We can cut red tape. However, there is a definite lack of concrete proposals to reduce this burden.

With this in mind, the European Commission is calling upon businesses: "Let us know what could be done better - we would like your ideas for reducing red tape!" — the leitmotif of a consultation launched today by the Commission.

This consultation process for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and their representative organization reduces, will help to identify the top ten EU legislative acts considered most burdensome by micro-companies and SMEs. It will run until 21 December 2012, and once complete, the Commission will analyse the results and consider how situation for SMEs could be improved.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said:

"Very often I am told that the European Commission is too far removed from the daily reality of small businesses. We want to address this gap. Today, we are giving businesses the opportunity to identify those areas and pieces of legislation where we can make a difference. I am confident that our enterprises will seize this opportunity, and I am appealing to them to make their views known. Please do not hesitate to let us know where we could eliminate excessive burden."

  1. Governance better regulation 
  2. Enterprise, policies, sme, small-business-act

If you are an SME or an organisation representing the interests of SMEs, you can help us identify trouble spots. Let us know if you think the EU could help SMEs by removing excessive burdens, for example in the following areas:

  1. Services: provision of services across borders, recognition of professional qualifications;
  2. Customs: customs controls and formalities, classification of goods, custom tariffs;
  3. Employment and Social Affairs: co-ordination and transferability of social rights, health & safety at work, organisation of working time, social security schemes, free movement of workers, posting of workers;
  4. Energy: energy supply, energy efficiency, renewable energy;
  5. Product safety: use of standards, demonstrating conformity in the absence of a harmonised standard, conformity assessment procedures, conformity assessment involving a conformity assessment body, EU declaration of conformity, CE marking rules, information/labelling/traceability obligations, controls / Inspections;
  6. Environment: tackling climate change, air quality/pollutants, biotechnology, nature and biodiversity, chemicals, industrial environmental audit, eco-labelling, noise, waste, water;
  7. Business environment: public procurement, company law, intellectual and industrial property, data protection;
  8. Taxation: VAT, excise duties, other indirect taxes, Direct taxes;
  9. Consumer protection: safe shopping, electronic commerce, legal redress and settlement of disputes, food safety, animal and plant health;
  10. Transport: transport of goods/ passengers, road transport, maritime / inland waterway transport, combined/ other transport modes.

Please contribute your views via the online survey: "Which are the TOP10 EU most burdensome legislative acts for SMEs?" at public consultation


As part of the review of the Small Business Act (2011), the Commission is further strengthening its impact assessment procedure to ensure that impacts on SMEs are thoroughly analysed and taken into account in all relevant legislative and policy proposals, with a clear indication of quantified effects on SMEs, whenever possible and proportionate.

The implementation of the “Think Small First” principle remains the core principle of the EU's legislation for small businesses. It implies a simplification of the regulatory and administrative environment in which SMEs are operating, notably by designing rules according to this principle. In the report Minimizing regulatory burden for SMEs - Adapting EU regulation to the needs of micro-enterprises the Commission sets out a number of concrete proposals to anchor the “Think Small First” principle into law- and policy making and to involve SMEs and their representative organisations closely into this work.

These include: a micro enterprise-dimension in the "SME test", a scoreboard of EU legislation updated on a yearly basis, conferences in the Member States and the current "Top 10" consultation on regulatory burdens.

Contacts : Carlo Corazza (+32 2 295 17 52) Sara Tironi (+32 2 299 04 03)

EUROPA - Press Releases - Which are the TOP 10 most burdensome legislative acts for SMEs?