Third Special Session of the OECD Working Party on Regulatory Management and Reform

 

In the framework of this GfD Working Group, the third Special Session of the OECD Working Party on Regulatory Management and Reform took place in Paris at the OECD headquarters on 4 May 2007 back-to-back with a meeting of the OECD Working Party on Regulatory Management and Reform. The meeting was chaired by Tunisia and co-chaired by the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada.
The format of the Special Sessions had been agreed by Arab participants to the GfD Initiative at the first Regional Meeting of Working Group IV in Tunis in June 2005 to share know-how on implementing regulatory reform and to plan further co-operative efforts. The first and second Special Sessions took place in Paris on 28 September 2005 and 25 April 2006, respectively.

Participation

14 policy-experts and high-level representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian National Authority, Tunisia and Yemen as well as 42 representatives from OECD countries, most of them delegates to the OECD Working Party on Regulatory Management and Reform, representing Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States. In addition, Brazil (observer to the Working Party), TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee) and the EC (European Commission) were represented in this Special Session. The meeting was chaired by Mr. George Redling (Canada), co-chair of the Focus Group on Regulatory Reform.

Objectives

The meeting continued the regional policy dialogue and made progress on several initiatives proposed in the framework of the GfD Working Group IV dealing with Public Service Delivery, Public-Private Partnerships and Regulatory Reform:

  • Build capacities and momentum to conduct Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) in the MENA region. The OECD Secretariat has proposed to implement pilot projects among different Arab countries. These pilot experiences are not new for some of the OECD countries and cooperation could enhance RIA design and implementation through OECD countries’ experience. 
  • Build a framework for Regulatory Quality. A draft document to establish a Regional Framework for Regulatory Quality in Arab countries has been produced by delegates to Working Group IV in order to integrate principles of regulatory quality in the region.
  • Intensify policy dialogue and the support of country Actions Plans’ implementation through regional centres, regional study visits and other capacity-building activities.
  • Adapt the OECD Government at a Glance to better monitor progress and evaluate policy action in the region. Government at a Glance is a project to develop a consistent framework of public governance data and indicators.
  • Enhance knowledge in the region and promote new policy recommendations through OECD GfD Peer Reviews on Regulatory Quality. These qualitative and quantitative assessments of regulatory systems could help identifying challenges and provide policy recommendations and guidance based on OECD best practices and expertise.

Policy Dialogue

The meeting was opened by Mr. Aart Jan De Geus, Deputy Secretary General of the OECD and by Mr. Kheireddine Ben Soltane, Legal and Legislative Advisor to the Government, Tunisia, representing the Chair of the Working Group IV. During this one day meeting there were four thematic sessions:

Draft Regional Framework for Regulatory Quality

In the framework of the GfD Working Group IV, delegates worked together to draft a text compiling agreed elements that could contribute to regulatory quality in the region. During this session, some of the most active participants in the drafting of this piece of soft law explained the benefits resulting from the promulgation of such a document in the region. A comparison with the OECD Guiding Principles for Regulatory Quality and Performance and its practical advantages were highlighted. Discussion focused on how to find high political support for this concrete initiative.

Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) pilot projects

RIA is one of the most important policy tools to implement regulatory policy. In the framework of the GfD Working Group IV, intensive discussion and experience exchange on this subject has already taken place. This session was presented as an opportunity to move further, and the OECD Secretariat presented a possible road map to contribute to a solid framework to conduct RIA in any of the Middle East and North African countries. Based on experiences in other countries, RIA pilot projects may become a successful way of introducing this policy tool in the region. Arab delegates presented their experience and their work in this direction. Answers to a questionnaire previously prepared by the Secretariat mapped out the starting phase of a systematisation of RIA in their countries. This was complemented by OECD speakers exploring their different experiences on RIA and the solutions they have found to strengthen their capacities, especially through training. DFID (UK) gave good examples on how to promote regulatory quality with concrete projects.

Juri-linguists and law drafting for economic growth and investment

High quality law drafting is essential to build a sound regulatory system, especially dealing with complex legislative frameworks in multilingual environments. This is a problem shared by most Arab and some OECD countries. This session was planned to give an opportunity to review activities in the framework of the GfD Working Group IV and to explore new ones. Tunisia proposed to continue efforts, possibly leading to the creation of a Regional Centre on Law Drafting focused on building capacities to improve law drafting in the region. Delegates to Working Group IV showed interest to explore new ways of cooperation and to continue working on this topic in the framework of the GfD Initiative.

OECD Regulatory Reform Reviews

For the last 10 years, the OECD Regulatory Reform Programme has produced regulatory reviews in 22 OECD Member countries as well as in Russia. The reviews have focused on reform experiences and challenges, and have promoted the inclusion of OECD good practices and policy recommendations adapted to each case.
The OECD reviews triggered reform, driven by high political support. There are mainly two reasons for it: first, because the report focuses on challenges, highlighting key elements with a new international perspective. Second, because the eagerness to have good results helps deepening the processes of reform by taking stock of the current situation and possible solutions.
During this session, OECD delegates exchanged their experiences in undertaking OECD Regulatory Reform Reviews and the consequences for their regulatory systems. Compared to reviews in OECD member countries, GfD Peer Reviews on Regulatory Quality in MENA countries will be a lighter instrument, but with a similar expected impact on regulatory policies. The format and methodology of the reviews will be very similar to the previous OECD reviews: the results-oriented reviews will be carried out in close co-operation between officials from MENA countries and have a practical focus. Complementing the work of the reviews, participants discussed the set up of indicators to measure and monitor reform as a long-term goal of the GfD Initiative.

Outcomes

The Third Special Session of the OECD Working Party on Regulatory Management and Reform has been very productive in terms of exchange of ideas and future proposals. Some of the tangible outcomes of the discussions reinforced delegates’ support to some of the elements of the programme of work. The proposals at the most advanced stage are the following:

  • The RIA pilot projects are moving forward; interest and support from delegates was expressed. A new background document was delivered by the OECD Secretariat: Building a Framework for Conducting Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA): Tools for Policy-Makers. There are many challenges lying ahead and next steps will require an active participation from Arab delegates to define project proposals. Turkey officially announced that it will host a capacity building seminar on RIA in Istanbul in November 2007.
  • High political support will be sought by delegates in their respective countries for the Draft Framework for Regulatory Quality. The aim is to discuss and endorse the document at the next MENA Ministerial meeting.
  • After learning from the processes and experiences of OECD countries and the OECD Regulatory Reform Reviews, Arab delegates are considering to undertake GfD Peer Reviews on Regulatory Quality to promote regulatory policy improvements and to develop policy recommendations based on the GfD Initiative partners’ expertise.
  • As a relevant element of regulatory reform, Administrative Simplification is one of the key issues highlighted by delegates to the GfD Working Group IV. In close cooperation with the GfD Working Group II, capacity building activities are envisaged, such as a High Level Regional Seminar on Strategies, Tools and Capacities for Administrative Simplification in Cairo on 20 and 21 June 2007.
  • In the framework of the GfD Initiative, delegates envisaged the application of the OECD Government at a Glance project to monitor and evaluate reform efforts.
  • The creation of a Regional Institute for Law Drafting in Tunisia was proposed. This long- term goal requires co-operation and support from all countries participating in the GfD Initiative.
  • Regulatory institutions are a key element to support sound regulatory frameworks for public service delivery. In the framework of the GfD Initiative delegates envisage medium-term regional capacity building activities in this field.
  • Based on previous experiences in the framework of the GfD Initiative, delegates have suggested undertaking study visits in the MENA region in order to create a momentum for reform in regard to PPP, public service delivery and regulatory reform.

Documentation


Session 2: Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) pilot projects


Session 3: Juri-linguists and Law Drafting for Economic Growth and Investment

Session 4: OECD Regulatory Reform Reviews

Closing Session:

Background documents