RQ in France: situation in January 2010

Regulatory quality in general

Interview with Serge Lasvignes, secretaire général du Gouvernement: “is it possible to increase the quality of legislation?” (April 2008)
Mr  Lasvignes, the head of the legislative office in the Prime minister’s administration, and chief manager in government of the production of new texts, makes the case for greater control over new regulation to curb “legislative inflation”. He stresses that this would require a “cultural change” in the ministries, to achieve greater quality and better enforcement of the law.

Impact assessment

Interview with Jean Maia, director at the SGG : “Impact assessment: a sea-change in the legal institutional make up of France” (September 2009)
Mr Maia has been one of the prime movers of a more stringent impact assessment system, under preparation since 2004, which finally was believed to need a change in the Constitution. The new system applies as of 1 September 2009 and includes  innovations such as a more specific requirements for the measurement of impacts, and the online publication of the assessment when the draft law is tabled in Parliament.


An article on the website of the ministry of finance  (les lois de simplification) summarizes the approach followed from  2004 to 2007, which produced three simplification laws drafted by the Government.  Over that period, several hundred individual legal measures were taken to simplify texts or procedures, and repeal obsolete norms. From 2008, the main simplification drive seems to have been transferred to Parliament, with two simplification omnibuses adopted in 2009. How Parliament took up the challenge of “simplification and clarification of law and streamlining of procedures” is best described in Mr. Etienne Blanc’s report to the competent commission in the national assembly. Though the law addresses complexity suffered by citizens, business, local authorities and public services, the project is said to be driven by the need to restore competitiveness of companies as well as simplify red tape for citizens.

Reduction of administrative burdens

From 2006 to 2008, the French government adopted and started to implement an ambitious programme to cut red tape for companies by 25% by 2012, inspired by the European Commission’s Action Programme. The full mapping of legislation yielded a list of some 8,800 information obligations. The 1000 most onerous ones were to be simplified within 4 years.  In late 2008, when the programme had apparently not yet been completed, the French authorities decided to concentrate the simplification work on procedures identified by stakeholders as the most onerous, hence a new effort to record the expectations of business and citizens. See the Ensemble Simplifions website.