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Administrative simplification in the Brussels-Capital Region

In an era of hyperconnectivity and the proliferation of increasingly fast services, public administrations have to adapt. easy.brussels is establishing a philosophy of administrative simplification within the Brussels Region’s institutions in order to always offer better conditions to its users.

An interdisciplinary mission

Administrative simplification aims to reduce the administrative burden for public service users (citizens, businesses, etc.). For users, this means saving time and money, a reduction in travel and increased transparency, independence and efficiency.

In 2014, the Economic and Social Council (ESC) recommended that the Brussels Government set up a new administrative simplification plan within the Brussels Region and ensure an effective follow-up of this plan. As a result, the administrative simplification agency, easy.brussels, was created in 2015 and set out its actions for the coming years in the 2015-2020 Administrative simplification plan.

easy.brussels’ role is to deploy the administrative simplification plan across all the Brussels-Capital Region’s institutions which it does through its steering committee comprised of representatives from each of Brussels’ regional organisations together with members of the Brussels Government. The agency as such guarantees a global and coordinated implementation of administrative simplification in the Brussels Region. A body for managing and questioning the processes in place is needed to enhance the available online tools.

easy.brussels fights the administrative complexity that adversely affects the perception of citizens and businesses. The administrative simplification strategy thus also involves improving the administration in order to increase its efficiency and reliability with user convenience as the central consideration.

Improving regulation

Simplifying administration to reduce the administrative burden involves revising the current regulations.

Also known as “Better regulation” or “intelligent regulation”, improved regulation is designed to limit regulatory constraints and the resulting administrative burden for businesses, citizens and public administrations. To this end, easy.brussels, working with the member bodies of the steering committee, reviews regulations and procedures that are considered overly cumbersome for Brussels public service users. This screening of the legislation results in the agency proposing solutions to the relevant entities and the Regional government if necessary.

Administrative simplification plan

The administrative simplification strategy of the Brussels Region for 2015 is broken down into

  • 2 general objectives
    • Strengthen management and consultation structures in terms of administrative simplification
    • Reduce the administrative burden by 25% in the Brussels-Capital Region
  • 8 strategic objectives
  • 39 operational objectives

125 actions and many progress indicators have also been defined so as to provide an objective illustration of the specific advances made for each project in the simplification plan under each regional competence.

The cross-cutting objectives of administrative simplification are included in the strategic objectives of the regional agents. Each of them must set objectives for their actions and progress related to the 2015-2020 Brussels action plan for administrative simplification. A monitoring tool is provided for this.

Evaluations and continuous improvement

Monitoring of the actions of the 2015-2020 administrative simplification plan has been set up with a view to guaranteeing an ongoing and effective follow-up of public service improvement measures for users. The pilot regional administrations measure the actions for which they are responsible and report on its progress. Then, when the easy.brussels steering committee meets with all the administrations every quarter, the transversal follow-up of the actions takes place.

easy.brussels also guarantees data encoding and its annual extraction. This enables the agency to analyse the implementation of the actions and provide accurate reporting to the Government that easy.brussels also includes in its annual report. The agency’s annual report therefore lays the foundation for priorities and recommended actions for the following year, while taking into account the project’s development and the realities on the ground which can vary from year to year.

easy.brussels uses this follow-up mechanism for projects identified in the regional plan and measuring their impact on the actual reduction in the administrative burden to assess the Brussels-Capital Region’s progress in terms of administrative simplification. In order to gain a comprehensive view of the extent of users’ needs and the challenges for Brussels oganistions, the agency also aims to adopt objective methods for measuring the administrative burden for users.

Measuring the administrative burden

For the best measurement of the administrative burden on users of Brussels public services, easy.brussels wants to combine qualitative assessment, through satisfaction surveys, with quantitative assessment by applying the Standard Cost Model (SCM) method. The SCM survey systematically analyses all the figures from the administrative burden related to a regulation for the user. This method takes place in steps:

  • Defining the regulatory area, making an inventory of information obligations and administrative formalities
  • Collecting parameters for the calculation basis: time, tariffs, costs, number of stakeholders, frequency, statistics, ineffective documents, digitisation
  • The mathematical calculation of burdens
  • Creating the follow-up report, including proposals for improving processes

Streamlining and precision are essential keys for the optimum application of the SCM method so as to obtain a measurement of the administrative burden that is representative and can be used to feed into comprehensive monitoring.

Raising awareness to implement a philosophy of administrative simplification

easy.brussels has an important role to play in raising awareness among regional and local institutions in order to instil a lasting process of administrative simplification. It informs both the administrations and the local authorities about issues regarding administrative simplification, particularly by organising an annual symposium on a subject related to administrative simplification. During the 2015 symposium, easy.brussels proposed tools for the use of a clear legal language. The 2016 symposium informed its target audiences of the need to incorporate digital inclusion. The agency provides as such a framework for reflection and supports them in incorporating these issues into their organisations.

For its contacts with the local authorities and the distribution of information to the Brussels municipalities, the agency relies on the cooperation agreement signed in 2016 with Brulocalis (the Association for the City and Municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region). This agreement is broken down into an annual convention between easy.brussels and Brulocalis. This cements the administrative simplification projects and actions to be deployed across the local administrations.

easy.brussels also raises awareness of simplification projects among Brussels businesses, especially SMEs, VSEs and start-ups. It consults various sector organisations and representatives such as CES and hub.brussels in order to offer an optimised administrative framework for companies.

The principles of this test are:

  • Identifying businesses impacted by regulation projects
  • Evaluating these impacts on SMEs
  • Consulting social partners
  • Studying alternative measures to regulation

Through this approach, it is possible to avoid the creation of unnecessary administrative burdens for SMEs and enable them to dedicate more resources to their business.