REFIT is the acronym for the European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme, launched in December 2012. Its aim is 'to make EU law lighter, simpler and less costly so that it benefits citizens and businesses and helps to create the conditions for growth and jobs. It does not put into question the EU's policy objectives, but seeks for more effective ways to achieve them' (European Commission memo, 18 June 2014).
Under the REFIT programme, the Commission regularly screens EU legislation for problems, inconsistencies and areas where measures might be ineffective. It also identifies corrective action that might be taken. The aim is to make sure policy objectives are achieved and the benefits of EU legislation are achieved at lowest cost and with the least possible administrative burden.
In order to further the REFIT agenda, on 2 October 2013, the Commission issued a Communication (COM(2013) 685 final) containing more than 100 individual actions. These included 46 legislative actions to simplify and reduce the regulatory burden, 7 initiatives to repeal existing regulations and 9 initiatives to withdraw proposals for new regulations. In addition, the Commission made a commitment to carry out 47 'fitness checks' and evaluations under REFIT to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of EU regulation and prepare future initiatives for simplification and regulatory burden reduction. The Commission also identified areas where planned initiatives would not be taken forward.
On 18 June 2014, the Commission issued a Communication (COM(2014) 368 final) in which it documented progress to date on the REFIT agenda. In this, the Commission noted that the majority of the legislative proposals for simplification and burden reduction identified in October 2013 had been adopted already or were planned for adoption during 2014. The Communication outlined the state of play in a number of areas related to employment and working conditions, as described below.
Employment and social policy: A number of main actions have been identified.
Occupational safety and health: The Commission will undertake an evaluation of all EU legislation, expected to be completed by the end of 2015. Until then, the Commission has decided not to present a proposal giving legal underpinning to the social partners’ 2012 agreement on health and safety in the hairdressing sector.
Information and consultation: A fitness check exercise was carried out as part of the Commission’s 2010 work programme and the results were published in 2013. The Commission is now considering possible consolidation or recasting of three Directives in this area: Directive 2002/14/EC on information and consultation of employees; Directive 98/59/EC on collective redundancies; and Directive 2001/23/EC on transfers of undertakings. The Commission will consult the social partners on this issue during 2014.
Working time: The Commission will issue a proposal for an amendment to the existing Directive in 2015.
Posted workers: A new Directive on the enforcement of Directive 96/71/EC has been agreed and is making its way through the EU legislative process.
Temporary agency work: An evaluation of Directive 2008/104/EC was carried out in 2014, and the Commission has decided that amendments to the Directive are not necessary.
Employment relationship: The Directive on an employer's obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or employment relationship (91/533/EEC) is being evaluated, with the results due in the second quarter of 2015.