In recent years, REFIT and the institutional agreement on Better Regulation have focused on reducing regulatory burdens, increasing the number of impact analyses, and wide-ranging consultations. As a result, the legislative process has ground to a halt. Having mapped and quantified the EU acquis, the Commission is preparing to launch a targeted deregulation with the aim of reducing regulatory burdens.
This unprecedented wave of liberalisation has not spared the EU's social element. There has been a dearth of new initiatives for fear of adversely affecting competitiveness. The Commission has limited itself to revising old directives without adapting them to new scientific (carcinogens directive), social (working time directive) and societal (collaborative economy) developments. The modernisation of the acquis gives rise to concerns about loss of content and the weakening of the common framework (regulation on European statistics). The only sizeable task is yet to come: the European pillar of social rights, which – it is feared – may result in a declaration of principle.
On the eve of the EU's 60th anniversary, it is urgent that we restore legitimacy to its social element. Giving shape to the European pillar of social rights and setting up a related investment programme at EU level would reassure all Europeans.