The background

There’s growing concern that Europe does not currently have the right regulatory environment for innovative products and services across industry. Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, has said that more must be done to create a regulatory environment for innovation to flourish. He is committed to getting the conditions right for innovation in Europe, and making sure that regulation is based on an innovation principle as well as the precautionary principle.

So, the European Commission is looking to put in place a regulatory framework that can adapt to the pace of change of new technologies and innovation. Mr Moedas sees such a framework as essential for EU supplies of innovative products and services, to attract inward investment, and to maintain the benefits, (in terms of jobs, growth and environmental and social wellbeing), that come from those investments and the EU’s world leading position in research and development.

This is highly relevant to TMT companies, due to extensive regulation impacting the sector, and with pressures for streamlined efficiencies, improved productivity and sustainable growth driving the need for innovation.

The online survey

To progress this initiative, the Commission launched an online survey early in April. It gives industry and other stakeholders the opportunity to contribute their views on the Impact of Regulation on Innovation. The survey runs until 16 May 2016.

Much of the survey is tick box with the option to provide additional comments. It covers a range of issues and asks whether each issue is a driver, barrier, neutral or not applicable to innovation. The issues include the impact on innovation of environmental protection legislation, labelling and product safety legislation, as well as the conflicting requirements of different regulations and competition law.

Whilst there are a number of sector specific questions that won’t be relevant to you (unless you have a group company active in the energy, food, health or water sector) there are a number of open questions which are applicable to all sectors, such as whether a non-uniform implementation of EU regulations in Member States hinders innovation and whether any specific regulatory gaps exist.

It’s positive that the European Commission recognises the strong relationship between innovation and economic growth. It also acknowledges that the regulatory environment may be an enabling factor or a perceived or real barrier to innovation. This is your opportunity to “have your say”.