Better law-making agreement

Council of the EU

What is the better law-making agreement?

The better law-making agreement aims to improve the way the EU legislates and to ensure that EU legislation better serves citizens and businesses. It should make the EU legislative process more transparent, open to stakeholder input and easier to follow. It will also help assess the impact of EU law for small and medium-sized enterprises, local industry and ordinary citizens. It will introduce a new agreement between the EU institutions, designed to make cooperation between them smoother and clearer.

One of the main aims of the better law-making agreement, also known as 'better regulation' or 'smart regulation', is to ensure that EU policies and laws achieve their objectives at minimum cost and administrative burden. It is a way of working to ensure that political decisions are prepared in an open, transparent manner, informed by the best available evidence and backed by the comprehensive involvement of stakeholders. Better regulation covers the whole policy cycle - policy design and preparation, adoption, implementation, application, evaluation and revision. For each phase of this cycle, there will be specific principles, objectives, tools and procedures to make sure that the EU has the best regulation possible. 

Why do we need it?

Understanding how a legislative proposal comes about  at EU level and following its path through all the institutions until the moment it is transposed into national law is not an easy thing. The process is often complicated and can take a long time. At the same time, it's crucial to ensure the quality of regulation and to make sure it responds to the needs of the society and businesses. That is why the EU institutions are constantly reflecting on how to improve the way the European Union legislates. They also aim to enhance cooperation between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to better serve EU citizens.

Better regulation is at the heart how the EU works, and makes an essential contribution to competitiveness, growth and jobs by simplifying laws and better tailoring them to companies and citizens.

In detail

The comprehensive better regulation agenda proposed by the Juncker Commission is made up of two main components.

Proposal for an interinstitutional agreement on better regulation

This covers, in particular, programming and  planning, application of better regulation tools and delegated and implementing acts. This agreement should replace the existing 2003 interinstitutional agreement on better law-making.


The Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) is the Commission's programme to ensure that EU legislation remains 'fit for purpose' and delivers the results intended by EU law makers. 

Communication on better regulation for better results - an EU agenda

The Communication outlines the Commission's approach to better regulation and commits the Commission to increase the openness and transparency of its work. It also sets out the tools that the Commission will use, including the new integrated better regulation guidelines. It also explains how the Commission will strengthen the REFIT programme.

The better regulation agenda also includes a number of accompanying documents which have a direct link to the elements being examined by the Council. These documents include better regulation guidelines and documents related to the REFIT programme.

In the Council

Better law-making is an ongoing priority for the Council. The Council would like to see better quality evidence-based legislation and effective and less burdensome policy-making. In its efforts to ensure that EU legislation is 'fit for purpose', the Competitiveness Council has adopted conclusions on better regulation on several occasions. These conclusions were also endorsed by the European Council.

In March 2015, the General Affairs Council (GAC) launched the preparations for the interinstitutional agreement negotiations. It asked Coreper to examine issues which could be included in the future interinstitutional agreement on better law-making (known as IIA).  After discussions at technical level and later in Coreper, ministers agreed on the Council's top priorities regarding the IIA (programming, better regulation and expert consultation on delegated acts) at the General Affairs Council in April 2015. That position was reflected in a letter from the Chair of the GAC, Edgar Rinkevics, to the Commission Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, and forms the basis for negotiations with the other two institutions.

The Commission adopted the better regulation agenda on 19 May 2015. The Council exchanged views on it during a GAC meeting on 23 June 2015. Ministers took stock of work in the Council, particularly on the interinstitutional agreement to be negotiated between the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission. Ministers also discussed the content of the wider better regulation agenda from the particular perspective of business and citizens

On 15 December 2015, the Council approved a provisional agreement on better law-making reached with the European Parliament and the Commission. 

Better law-making agreement was adopted by the Council on 15 March 2016. Ministers also approved the arrangements on annual programming which translate the provisions of the interinstitutional agreement into a set of concrete practical steps and indicative timelines. 

The agreement was signed on 13 April 2016 and entered into force the same day. It was published in the Official Journal on 12 May 2016.