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ECCT hosts government transparency forum

The European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) hosted 2017 International Government Transparency and Public Participation Forum together with the National Development Council (NDC) and various other government agencies. The full-day forum brought together senior government officials, academics, researchers and corporate leaders to discuss the latest developments and best international practices related to the drafting, implementation and maintenance of controls, including laws, regulations and guidelines. At the forum opening remarks were made by NDC Deputy Minister Kao Shien-quey, ECCT Chairman Hakan Cervell and Thomas Jurgensen, Deputy Head of the European Economic and Trade Office. This was followed by presentations in three sessions by various European and Taiwanese experts.

In his opening remarks Chairman Cervell said that citizens and foreign residents of Taiwan are demanding the same level of public participation and transparency and as other developed countries. Besides safeguarding the rights of individuals to participate in public affairs, he added that transparency and predictability in the regulatory system are essential to business.

He went on to say that Taiwan has a well-established legal system and procedures in place for amending laws and regulations, including a 60-day notice and comment period for drafts of all regulations. However, there remain instances of important policy changes that are not properly communicated. With sufficient transparency and meaningful consultation with business, potential problems can be discovered early on in the drafting process. This approach not only benefits business but also helps authorities to identify problematic areas and make improvements before regulations are finalized.

The chairman pointed out that while Taiwan continues to adopt international standards and practices, there have been several recent instances where decisions were reversed without due cause and other instances where the regulatory process has not been transparent. Not following due process and reversals, especially those not based on scientific evidence, risk undermining trust in the government and the international image of Taiwan, he said. Another concern is the misuse of administrative means to avoid procedures required by law. To ensure complete transparency, it is therefore important to announce and publish explanatory documents and include the full scope of regulations in formal announcements. The chairman concluded that a transparent, consistent and predictable regulatory system is in the best interests of all stakeholders that benefits the economy and the people of Taiwan.

The European and Member States have a solid framework in place to ensure appropriate public participation in decision and law-making processes and good regulatory practice. They are working at making improvements through the recently introduced "Better Regulation Agenda". The agenda is about designing and evaluating EU policies and laws transparently, with evidence, and backed up by the views of citizens and stakeholders.

Better regulation initiative sets out to ensure: decision-making is open and transparent; citizens and stakeholders can contribute throughout the policy and law-making process; EU actions are based on evidence and understanding of the impacts; regulatory burdens on businesses, citizens or public administrations are kept to a minimum. Enshrined in this agenda is the implementation of good regulatory practice in the development, implementation and maintenance of controls – including laws, regulations and guidelines – in order to effectively achieve a public policy objective and enhance regulatory transparency.

To meet the standard of good regulatory practice, policy interventions and enforcement, should meet five principles: proportionality, accountability, consistency, transparency and targeting. The European Commission is assessing the expected and actual impact of action at every stage of the decision-making process. Extensive planning and analysis is carried out before taking action, for instance before proposing a new law, or when evaluating how well laws are performing. A useful tool in this regard is a regulatory impact assessment, a process of systematically identifying and assessing the expected effects of a regulatory proposal to determine its impact on business, consumers or the economy. RIAs can be very useful in identifying potential problems during the drafting phase of regulations.

The commission is also improving and increasing opportunities to contribute throughout the policy and law-making cycle. Interested citizens and stakeholders can share their views on: roadmaps, impact assessments, legislative proposals, draft implementing and delegated acts as well as evaluations and 'fitness checks' of existing policies and laws.

Keeping regulations up to date and fit for purpose is also important. In this regard the commission is assessing the performance of the existing body of EU law and periodically making changes where necessary to keep laws up-to-date. In order to ensure the quality of regulations the commission has established the Regulatory Scrutiny Board, an independent group of commission officials and experts from outside the commission. Its role is to check the quality of all impact assessments and major evaluations that inform EU decision-making.

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