Stockings with barcodes, banned Russian screws – this is where the EU regulates to death

For the remainder of her term as EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Among other things, an offensive to reduce bureaucracy was undertaken. That also seems urgently needed. Although von der Leyen promised to curb Brussels’ regulatory frenzy when he took office, according to the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), new regulations are still being added.

Five new laws to one abolished one

DIHK General Manager Martin Wansleben complains: “In 2021, for every one law that was abolished, there were 1.5 new ones at the EU level. In 2022, the ratio was already 1 to 3.5 – and in June of this year, for every one law that was abolished, there were five new ones. Companies are confronted with new laws, reporting obligations, requirements, forms and applications almost every day.

Now the EU Commission wants to abolish a quarter of the often annoying reporting requirements that companies have to contend with. The DIHK has put together a case collection of particularly useless growths in the Brussels jungle of paragraphs, which, in Wansleben’s opinion, von der Leyen should quickly ax.

Elaborate embroidery work for compression stockings

According to the DIHK, the Commission could, for example, work on improving the provisions of the EU Medical Devices Regulation. For example, compression stockings (the medical version of support stockings) are subject to complex labeling requirements with machine-readable code for reusable products. This means that this marking has to be laboriously embroidered into the stockings – even though they are “typically not passed on to other patients”.

According to the DIHK catalog of horrors, a manufacturer of sterile pipettes for single use is struggling with another plague of regulation. He has been in business for 20 years and has sold millions of his simple products. Until now, a single file folder was enough for him for technical documentation – now there are ten.

Brussels’ ingenuity greets you every day

A directive for cross-border tax agreements also largely requires effort that appears unnecessary. According to the DIHK, around 27,000 mandatory reports were received by the Federal Central Tax Office by March 31, 2023. The result: “A need for legal policy action was identified in a total of only 24 cross-border tax planning models.”

Regarding the customs regulations, the DIHK states: “Changes in the EU regarding commodity numbers or coding in customs declarations can come into force on a daily basis.” It is better to have them come into force in a bundle, for example on the first of a month – “with a lead time, so that “Companies can adapt to changes.”

Bureaucratic limits on freedom of movement

Freedom of movement in the EU appears to quickly reach its limits when entrepreneurs send employees to other states in the European Union. An “A1 certificate” must be presented for this, which is not necessarily A1 from the point of view of reducing bureaucracy.

The DIHK says: “Specifically, each posted employee must provide their own A1 certificate with details of the complete address of all customers or suppliers. This must be sent to the health insurance companies, retrieved by the health insurance companies, printed out in most countries and given to the employee in paper form.” In addition, for business trips to other European countries, there would be “additional country-specific reports to the respective authorities in the countries”.

Imponderables in calibration and measurement systems stand in the way of e-mobility

There are still too few charging stations for electric cars on the way to the desired climate-neutral EU. However, according to the DIHK’s ruling, a guideline on calibration and measurement is hindering rapid expansion on the German market: “In detail, the regulations for implementing measurement and calibration law in technical specifications are still unclear to charging station operators, as the requirements are constantly changing.”

The DIHK also sees Brussels regulations as an obstacle to switching to hydrogen as an energy source. The specifications and verification requirements are too complex and weaken economic viability: “The ramp-up of a broad-based hydrogen economy will be made much more difficult.”

Problems with Russian steel and scrap definition

The DIHK believes that companies are completely overwhelmed by the obligation to prove with so-called “material certificates” that the iron and steel products they import, including screws, do not contain any Russian primary products. The required certificates are “unpractical and not feasible for companies”.

There are also significant problems in defining when scrap metal is considered waste in the EU or as recyclable scrap for the circular economy. However, the DIHK leaves no doubt that it classifies “duplicate reporting obligations or contradictory legislative proposals” coming from Brussels as bureaucratic rubbish.

Hank Peter

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