Auteur: Mark Beunderman
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Under the metaphoric name "www.kafka.eu", Belgium and the Netherlands have proposed to launch an EU webportal where businesses and citizens can report and complain on administrative burden caused by EU regulation.
The idea is based on similar portals in the two countries, which have proven to be highly successful. On the Belgian site "www.kafka.be", 4,000 complaints were filed about national authorities' "red tape" in less than 4 months.
The complaints put forward - mainly by companies - on the Belgian and Dutch websites concern contradictory, complicated, too stringent or too detailed regulation.
But as the two countries say that more than 40 percent of the administrative burden originates in EU regulation, they now want their anti red-tape offensive to continue at the European level.
The Belgian government has already pre-registered the web address "www.kafka.eu" - to the domain ".eu", which, however, will only be available from November 2004.
"With an instrument such as www.kafka.eu, we will be able to react quickly in order to curb the European regulation mania", said the Belgian State Secretary for Administrative Simplification Vincent van Quickenborne.
The web address "www.kafka.eu" is named after the famous Czech author Franz Kafka and his equally famous descriptions of bureaucracy.
"Burden down by 18 percent"
The fight against over-regulation and bad regulation is set to be a key priority for the Dutch presidency which starts next July.
The Dutch intend to initiate a uniform European measuring system by which the administrative costs of EU regulation for companies can be assessed, a spokesman for the Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm told the EUobserver.
After that, the Dutch would like to see a huge operation whereby each Directorate-General of the European Commission should simplify and curb its legislation in order to decrease administrative burden.
A similar operation is currently taking place in the Netherlands.
"At the national level, we have already managed to decrease the administrative burden for businesses by 18 percent", claimed Mr Zalm's spokesman.
"I can't see why this can't be done at the European level".
The current Irish presidency, as well as the upcoming Luxembourg and UK presidencies are also involved in the Belgian-Dutch initiative.