Regulatory policy

Better Regulation in Europe: Belgium


The EU 15 Better Regulation project (2010) was a partnership between the OECD and the European Commission . It drew on the initiatives for Better Regulation promoted by both organisations over the last few years. 



Chapter 1: Strategy and policies for Better Regulation

  • Identify and disseminate a shared strategic vision of what Better Regulation is seeking to achieve, both in terms of curbing regulatory inflation, but also for the broader contribution which it can make to economic and other public policy goals. Co-operate on the development of a common communication strategy for shared work and achievements, as well as for overall Better Regulation strategy. Develop a global agreement to sustain a shared approach and shared goals. Flesh out the strategy through a set of agreed principles to which each government would commit. (for Federal government, all governments)
  • Consider how to ensure that ex post evaluations of major Better Regulation programmes are carried out on a systematic basis. (for all governments)

Chapter 2: Institutional capacities for Better Regulation

  • Consider how best to secure more effective links between the administration and political units, for shared “buy-in” on  Better Regulation processes. (for all governments)
  • Ensure that the ASA keeps its institutional distinctiveness (location in the Federal Chancellery, autonomous agency, strong link with the stakeholders), which has allowed it to promote, often with great success, Better Regulation initiatives of Belgium-wide relevance. Ensure that its Better Regulation advocacy work continues to receive effective support in line with the enlargement of its missions. (for Federal government)
  • Undertake a review, associating the ASA and the Better Regulation structures of the other Belgian governments, of whether and how any or all of the Belgium wide bodies with a role in regulatory management could be associated more closely to the Better Regulation processes. (for Federal government)
  • Ensure that the significant institutional assets for Better Regulation which are now in place are preserved and enhanced. Consider whether resources are adequate to the tasks carried out, and ensure that professional capacities and competences are further enhanced, in order to meet the needs of a maturing Better Regulation agenda in support of more effective public administration and economic competitiveness. (for regional and community governments)
  • Consider the development of a more strategic perspective on policy co-operation. Review and monitor Better Regulation co-operation agreements so that they can play an appropriate supporting role in streamlining the regulatory framework to promote policy coherence across Belgium. (for Federal government)
  • Continue to promote further co-operation and information exchange on Better Regulation with the parliaments, whilst respecting the division of powers and responsibilities between the executive and the legislature. (for all governments)

Chapter 3: Transparency through consultation and communication

  • Engage further reforms of the advisory board system, to simplify the structure; develop further new forms of consultation, for use where appropriate as a complement to the traditional system; reinforce inter governmental consultation; and to frame the overall approach, establish consultation guidelines for all domains. (for all governments)
  • Evaluate the advisory board system, with a view to (further) rationalisation, and streamlining of the supporting rules. Consider a guillotine system to prune the number of boards when they come to the end of their mandate. Establish mandates with a limited timeframe, and systematically review the functioning of the board before renewing the mandate.
  • Ensure that consultation exercises are launched at an early stage in the decision making process, before political commitments have been made.
  • Enforce the rules regarding deadlines where necessary, and check that these provide adequate time for stakeholders to prepare effective responses.
  • Check that all regulations are captured by all the relevant stages of the consultation process. Consider, in discussion with parliaments, how and to what extent laws initiated by parliaments can be the subject of equivalent robust procedures.
  • Ensure that systematic feedback is provided on significant stakeholder contributions.
  • Without endangering the traditional advisory board system of consultation, develop a framework for the selected use of new approaches.
  • Develop, agree and publicise an enforceable consultation policy and supporting code of good practice that covers all the key elements set out in the more detailed recommendations above (scope, timing, methods, feedback etc). Consider whether there is a need for further sanctions for non-compliance with consultation rules and procedures.

Chapter 4: The development of new regulations

  • Consider action to limit the use of programme laws to their intended purpose. Ensure that these laws are processed transparently. (for Federal government, Walloon government)
  • Consider setting up a more visible and regularly updated forward planning process for regulations, to promote transparency. (for Governments apart from Flanders)
  • Consider how law drafting can be more firmly established as the responsibility of officials in the administration, subject of course to political and ministerial oversight and direction. (for all governments)
  • Consider preliminary internal reviews by officials in the administration to relieve the load on the formal control bodies. (for all governments)
  • Identify the issues that stand in the way of a more robust impact assessment process, and take steps to deal with these, drawing on international best practice. (for all governments)
  • The federal government should re-assess its ambitions in respect of the SDIA test and take stock of how to evolve toward a broader, integrated and realistically achievable approach. (for Federal government)
  • Flanders should stick with its ambition of a broadly based process. It should not be discouraged by the challenges of setting up a full impact assessment process, and decide to confine itself to a more limited version that only covered administrative. (for Flanders government)
  • The Walloon government should set itself the objective of moving toward a broader process, beyond administrative burdens. (for Walloon government)
  • The government of Brussels-Capital Region should formally introduce ex ante impact assessment in the procedures for making new regulations. (for Brussels-Capital Region government)
  • Ensure that part of the upgrading of impact assessment processes includes a clear and enforceable commitment to reviewing alternatives to regulation. (for all governments)

Chapter 5: The management and rationalisation of existing regulations

  • Consider how the important work of codification, carried out for the most part by civil servants, can be drawn to the attention of governments and the political leadership. (for all governments)
  • Encourage and track the work of the parliamentary committee for Legislative Monitoring, and the work of other parliamentary committees (for example, the Flanders committee). Share the results of this work in the spirit of a global approach. Consider how implementation issues can be captured more effectively and at an earlier stage. (for Federal government, all governments)
  • Strengthen the existing Belgian SCM network to share ideas on the development of methodologies. Ensure that information is exchanged between governments regarding the development of databases, to facilitate exchanges of best practice and co-operation. (for all governments)
  • Confirm a clear net target or objective for burden reduction so that benefits from work on existing regulations is not cancelled out by burdens in new regulations. (for Federal government)
  • Strengthen the current targets and criteria for burden reduction so that work on existing regulations is not cancelled out by burdens in new regulations. Make stronger use of the measurement work to inform simplification plans and in support of a clear target or objective. (for Walloon government)
  • Consider how the Regulatory Management Unit can be further supported in its work. One idea would be to outsource the measurement process. (for Flemish government)
  • Consider whether it is appropriate and necessary to establish more focused actions to deal with unnecessary burdens inside government. (for all governments)

Chapter 6: Compliance, enforcement, appeals

  • Consider whether there are issues related to the duplication of procedures, and more effective use of the information gathered by ombudsmen, that require attention. (for all governments)

Chapter 7: The interface between member countries and the European Commission

  • Establish a strategic review of the framework for transposition of EU directives. Consider whether resources for the euro-co-ordinator network need to be boosted. Consider carrying out a full impact assessment for EU directives as part of the transposition process. Consider how the processes of negotiation and transposition can be brought closer together in practice. Promote the interest of high-level officials and politicians in the management of EU regulations.

Chapter 8: The interface between subnational and national levels of government


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For further information, please contact Jennifer Stein, OECD Regulatory Policy Division


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