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Commission publishes 2021 Annual Burden Survey outlining EU efforts to simplify legislation

30 July 2022, EU: The European Commission has today published the 2021 Annual Burden Survey, which presents concrete examples of simplification of EU rules in areas such as agriculture and rural development, competition, communications, health and food safety, transport and mobility, and the single market. The 2021 Annual Burden Survey outlines the overarching efforts made by the Commission to simplify and modernise legislation. It is informed by the ‘one in, one out’ approach, including its initial lessons learned from the pilot project, and by the first year of operation of the Fit for Future Platform.

Maros Šefčovič, Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said: “As we accelerate the green and digital transitions to advance Europe’s recovery and respond to the current geopolitical context, we also continue to work hard to ensure that EU legislation is easy to comply with, efficient and fit for the future. This annual overview presents the concrete results of our work on simplifying EU law throughout 2021. At the same time, it shows lessons learnt from the Fit for Future Platform, our high-level expert group, helping us identify and reduce burdens at all levels, as well as from the ‘one in, one out’ approach pilot project. All this input clearly demonstrates that our commitment to evidence-based political decisions which do not create unnecessary burdens for citizens and businesses remains as strong as ever.”

Progress in the Commission’s simplification and burden reduction work

In 2021, 29 evaluations of existing EU policies were finalised and 35 initiatives including simplification and burden reduction measures were adopted. These initiatives aim to reduce administrative and compliance costs, and streamline, clarify and adjust the relevant legal framework where necessary. In 2021 the Commission’s proposals for funding programmes were adopted, largely retaining the proposed measures to simplify the multiannual financial framework and related procedures. In practice, this will facilitate beneficiaries’ participation, ease the implementation across Member States and enhance impact on the ground. The Commission is regularly examining how unnecessary burdens can be avoided, especially for small and medium-sized companies. We will further revitalise the work of the SME network and support similar initiatives in this regard.

First lessons learnt from introducing the ‘one in, one out’ approach

The ‘one in, one out’ approach, one of the goals of the Political Priorities of the von der Leyen Commission, implies offsetting new burdens with possible impact on business and citizens that may result from the Commission’s legislative proposals, by reducing existing burdens in the same policy area. In the second half of 2021 the Commission carried out a pilot project with ten selected legislative proposals (covering a broad range of policy areas and impacting different sectors and stakeholders) to test the approach, its methodology and related calculations. The work done in the context of the ‘one in, one out’ pilot project and the lessons learnt have helped significantly strengthen the Commission’s working practices by enhancing the quantification and improvement of cost estimates. The Commission is now focusing on fully implementing the ‘one in, one out’ approach that started at the beginning of 2022. The next annual burden survey will provide a first full picture in implementing this milestone of the new generation of better regulation.

Lessons learnt from the work of the Fit for Future Platform

The Commission’s high-level expert group, the Fit for Future Platform, plays a key role in identifying opportunities for simplification and modernisation of existing EU laws and unnecessary burdens at EU, national, regional and local level stemming from EU legislation. The Platform adopted 15 opinions including concrete suggestions pointing to opportunities for simplification, digitalisation, removing overlapping regulations and streamlining procedures. Such input helps the Commission in its evaluations and impact assessments.


The Annual Burden Surveys are part of the Better Regulation Agenda and Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT), the Commission’s regulatory approach established in 2012 for evidence-based and transparent policymaking. In 2021, the Commission adopted a new Better Regulation Communication, which led to concrete improvements in the EU law-making process to foster Europe’s recovery and ensure that EU laws remain future-proof. The Fit for Future Platform, a high level expert group composed of representatives of national, regional and local authorities and representatives of civil society organisations was set up in 2020. It provides opinions on initiatives included in its annual work plan.

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