Bulgaria definitely needs regulatory reform. It must lay at the core of the preparation of the regulations. Otherwise we will continue to witness numerous attempts to advance semi-literate laws in our Parliament. I have repeatedly criticized the quality of legislative activity. It is due to the lack of coordination of relevant departments in the executive branch. They are preparing bills but lack the mechanism to filter the proposed bills. Regarding the legal consciousness in our society we witness to see progress. Evidence is the greater compliance with the red traffic light and pedestrian paths.
Even in the late socialist regime in Bulgaria there were mechanisms to prepare and ensure mutual conformity of regulations (under the then State Council existed a specialized unit, which was attended by the most authoritative representatives of the doctrine). Such practice was reproduced in the period 1995-1997 and then from 2001 to 2009 by the Advisory Council on Legislation of the National Assembly. The quality of legislation is acceptable but the level of its application does not meet the expectations.
Regulations are not confined solely to the technical parameters of a normative act or the characteristics of the legislative process. Public regulation is a cascade of interconnected systems and actions united by common goals and subject to a common strategy. Quality of legislation in Bulgaria today can be described as miserable. Formally, our country has adopted the whole European regulatory framework, so public practices in these areas should follow the European model. But we don’t. However there is an inherent lack of being ready to accept and exercise this complex regulatory infrastructure within the Bulgarian society. The reason comes down to the fact that the Bulgarian public design is structured and operates on fundamentally different ways. The Regulatory impact assessment of the legislation comes from the assumption that the law on its own is the goal itself. The law is a means for achieving objectives and more generally – to solve societal problems. RIA therefore must “cover” the whole range of regulatory primordial problems in ways and means that lead to achieving concrete results.
Overregulation is not less of a danger for democratic societies. An overabundance of regulations is a pathology that can fatal to individual rights and legal safety. The concept of regulatory reform should be thinking in this broader context of the rule of law and the rights of the individual as a necessary step to strengthen democratic principles in our society.
Introduction of assessing the impact of legislation and policies is a powerful tool for the prevention of possible abuse and can be used as “early warning mechanism” so that the public good cannot be sacrificed for short-term cyclical benefits of small groups.
Quality of legislation is certainly not good but not only because that’s all we can do but mostly because of the deliberate manipulation of certain regulatory hulls directly related to the exercise of power and the distribution of public resources.
The rulemaking should start to be seen as the most visible and prominent result of a government. The quality of our legislation is bad simply because it is devoid of the most basic system to ensure monitoring and evaluation of its quality which means that it is objectively impossible for it to be good. This allows devoid of meaning and logic decisions to be converted into legal norms, the authors of these decisions are not required to meet any criteria for intelligence and education and are primarily released from liability for them.
Our modern life is a matter of proof yourself at work, in business, in society. In the EU, informed decisions based on the best evidence gathered in a transparent manner and evaluated expertise with unquestionable scientific methods is behind their legislation. In Bulgaria making legislative decisions based on evidence is still exotic. This creates immense freedom for any decisions of individuals which are momentary in power – opportunistic, populist, corporate closely party, short, often downright silly, etc.
RIA is the mechanism by which legislation can be viewed in its dynamics before and after its adoption using the legislative process of the testing methods employed by the legal science of sociology of law and sociology of general economic theory.
I dream of the day that a Bulgarian Prime Minister repeats the words of British Prime Minister David Cameron: “I want to be the first government in modern history, which left a legacy of reduced overall regulatory burden.”