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Cutting the red tape: How France is seeking to streamline its administrative processes

Heralded as the second act of the “Macron law”, the Simplification Bill currently under review in the French Parliament aims, in President Macron’s words, to “put an end to the complexities that protect rents and the status quo”. Reduce regulatory burdens, prevent redundant administrative requests, and streamline institutional procedures, the French Simplification Bill seeks to solve issues that have long plagued both France and the EU.


France, like the EU, is infamous for its bureaucratic labyrinths and administrative hurdles. These are not only inconvenient for citizens but also burden our companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that don’t have the legal resources to navigate these complexities. Simplifying administrative processes is therefore not just seens as crucial for stimulating economic growth but also as a matter of social justice by creating an even economic playing field.


Administrative complexity costs France around 3% of its GDP, according to the government. Since the election of Emmanuel Macron in 2017, he has sought to simplify the lives of businesses. This new bill is the latest instalment in this strategy aiming to unlock creative and productive capacities, making the administration more accessible and supportive of business creation and job growth.


Key Measures Planned by the French Government


France’s simplification bill revolves around principles familiar to the European approach to good governance. The “single window principle” eliminates the need for citizens and companies to share the same information multiple times with different institutions. The approach is supportive rather than sanctions-led, emphasising business-administration relations, with a continuous drive to simplify, rationalise, and unify state institutions and procedures.


Impact at European Union level


This willingness to simplify administrative procedures is not unique to France but is also present in the EU. The European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT), launched in 2012, aims to make EU law simpler and less costly by eliminating unnecessary burdens while maintaining benefits for citizens and businesses. This program, which includes over 270 legislative initiatives, could be seen as the first steps to simplifying administrative procedures which France has taken inspiration from.


Europe’s largest party, the European People's Party (EPP), which is likely to secure another term at the head of the Commission, has also placed administrative simplification at the forefront of its program for the coming EU elections. The EPP advocates for reducing bureaucratic hurdles by introducing a "one in, two out" principle to decrease regulatory burdens by a third. They also support the sunset clause for EU legislation, ensuring laws expire unless reauthorised, thus preventing outdated regulations from lingering.


As both France and the EU advance in the simplification of their complex administrative processes, it is crucial that their efforts inform one another as well as other countries seeking to alleviate the burdens of bureaucracy for their citizens and companies. By working together and sharing best practices, both France and the EU can achieve a more streamlined, efficient, and competitive economic environment, benefiting businesses and citizens alike.

 



Thomas Shirrefs from the French agency Kairos Public Affairs wrote this contribution.

Contact any of our United Government Affairs network members to analyse the threats and

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