Back in 2014, when the new Commission had just taken office, UNI Europa sat down to analyse official documents, speeches and interviews in order to find out what we could be expecting. The analysis, which you can download here, was full of warning signs. Not only did the new President of the Commission introduce a power hierarchy between Commissioners offering veto rights to the top level of vice-presidents, the policies he proposed were also radically different. Regulation had to be better, supported by a smarter process of creating new regulation. It had to be streamlined, more transparent, and more open to public opinion than ever before. At the same time, the number of new regulations had to be cut – from over 160 per year on average, to just 23. There was little doubt from the offset, that this Commission’s ambitions were high.
Glossed in smart phrases that at the first glance seemed agreeable, were a number of worrying signs. Despite scattered mention of a social market economy and social fairness, the Commission wants to be “big on the big things and small on the small things” and they want to cut “unnecessary burdens” and “red tape” Yet nowhere in the documents, or speeches, was any of this defined. What’s big, small? Unnecessary? Or red tape? Who is this Better Regulation actually better for? Warning signs began to pop up.
Realising that any new regulation of relevance for our sectors would have to pass the tests of Better regulation, big or small, unnecessary or necessary, UNI Europa quickly dived into the details. To influence EU policies from the drawing board to the final adoption, we need to understand where, how, when and who. Our knowledge of the real world challenges and opportunities for workers across all our sectors, has to be fed into the policies and bureaucracies in the EU. The question was, though, would quality jobs and strong social standards be framed as ‘unnecessary burdens’?
We promised back in the autumn of 2014 to keep a close eye on how the Commission unfolded its policies. We have done that in many ways, as can be read in our other posts. And we have done it smartly – we initiated the creation of the Better Regulation Watchdog, a network of now 65 civil society organisations and trade unions in 18 different countries. Read much more about the work we have done in separate posts. Want to know more about the Watchdog? Use the search box and type ‘Watchdog’.