European Commission simplifies its rulebook

THE EUROPEAN Comm-ission is set to overhaul its rulebook, with plans to simplify or abolish 1,400 EU rules on a variety of topics, ranging from company law to the EU Customs Code.

The plan to make EU legislation more user-friendly was greeted cautiously by European legal departments in Brussels, which may lose work as a result.

Stephen Spinks, a partner at the EU competition department of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, admitted that a simpler EU rulebook could encourage in-house legal teams to outsource a little less work, but said the amendments would be helpful. “It would certainly be good to get obsolete stuff out,” he said.

The changes will include: combining seven company law directives spanning mergers, public limited companies, limited liability and other topics; simplifying trade statistics rules and so reducing the amount of data demanded from businesses; and modernising the EU Customs Code to create a law governing all electronic data exchanges.

EU Industry Commis-sioner Günter Verheugen said: “This will have a positive effect on the competitiveness of our economy. The policy objectives do not change, but the way to get there will be much easier, cheaper and more effective.