As part of its Smart Regulation policy, the European Commission initiated a Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT). This is a continuous process, affecting the whole policy cycle – from the design of a piece of legislation to implementation, enforcement, evaluation and, where justified, revision.
Under the first stages of this programme, the Commission reviewed the entire stock of EU legislation and decided on follow-up actions, one of which is a ‘Fitness Check’ involving a comprehensive policy evaluation aimed at assessing whether the regulatory framework for a particular policy sector is ‘fit for purpose’. Fitness Checks are described to provide an evidence-based critical analysis of whether EU actions are proportionate to their objectives and delivering as expected. They are stated to cover environmental, economic and social aspects, and concern all EU policy areas.
In the environment policy field, the Commission already completed Fitness Checks of EU freshwater and waste related legislation, and has now begun a Fitness Check of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives.
The Fitness Check Mandate for Nature legislation is here.
Phase 1 (January-April 2015) was evidence-gathering in which all Member States and selected key stakeholder groups were consulted.
At national level, one representative from each of the following stakeholder groups were consulted in each of the 28 EU Member States:
1) Competent authority for nature
2) Other public sector body
3) Private sector
4) Non-governmental organisation involved in nature conservation.
Between April and the end of June 2015, meetings are held in ten Member States in order to gather and examine evidence in more detail, in particular evidence related to costs and excessive or unnecessary administrative burden linked to the Directives and the reasons behind them, as well as implementation challenges and successes. The ten Member States were the Netherlands (16-17 April), Germany (20-21 April), Poland (23-24 April), Spain (5-6 May), Malta (12-13 May), France (19-20 May), and the United Kingdom (1-2 June) Sweden (8-9 June), Slovakia (23-24 June), and Estonia (29-30 June, tbc).
Phase 2 (30 April- 24 July 2015): the Commission launched a 12-week public Internet consultation, open to all and available in 23 official languages of the EU. The questionnaire is in two parts with an initial set of general questions followed by a more detailed set of questions that explore different aspects of the Fitness check. Respondents have the option of only responding to the general questions or, if they wish, addressing the more detailed ones too. The results of the public consultation will be published in the autumn.
The List of documents compiled to assist the process is found here.