generic project image

Project: Better regulation under Ursula von der Leyen

This project examines the Better Regulation agenda of the European Commission under president Ursula von der Leyen, with a specific focus on the agenda’s impacts on labour and consumer protection policies.

Project information

Project manager
Brigitte Pircher
Chambour of Labour Vienna, Austria
Political science (Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences)

More about the project

Originating in the 1990s, the Better Regulation agenda aims to ensure evidence-based and transparent legislation by making EU laws simpler, better and more inclusive, via engaging companies, citizens and stakeholders. However, workers' organizations, such as the European Trade Union Confederation or national trade unions, often perceive it as a deregulation tool, aiming to eliminate regulations that hinder corporate goals.

When von der Leyen took office, she pledged to enhance the agenda by strengthening the consultation instrument REFIT (regulatory fitness and performance programme) and the one-in, one-out (OIOO) principle. The latter is the process where newly introduced burdens are offset by removing equivalent burdens in the same policy area.

While the REFIT platform aims to include stakeholders, criticism arises for its practical effectiveness. Moreover, the OIOO proposes regulatory changes, targeting 7.3 billion euros in administrative cost savings. However, it is unclear which policies these savings will affect. There is a risk that important social and environmental standards (e.g., significant workers' rights), which often impede corporate goals, may be undermined under the pretext of better regulation.

Key questions in the project include the evolution of the agenda under von der Leyen, the assessment of the agenda with regard to societal interests, and the analysis of the different consultation instruments. Moreover, the project analyzes the better regulation toolbox and evaluates the impacts of the better regulation agenda for labor rights and consumer protection. This is also done against the backdrop of the recent developments, such as the SME relief package.

The project is part of the research in the Swedish Network for European Studies (SNES/LNU) research group.