Lighter regulation makes for an easier day
How can dealings with the authorities be made more flexible? Does legislation enable or restrict the business ideas of companies? These are some of the questions for which the Government has sought solutions in the key project of streamlined legal provisions. The work done in various ministries can be seen in the daily lives of both citizens and businesses.
Service processes have been made faster and new kinds of practices and business models have been enabled by streamlining and modernising legislation and by developing electronic procedures. The culture of bill drafting has improved during the project, and the assessment of the impacts of legislation has advanced.
Work has now been done for three years. The overviews currently published by the ministries show that results have been achieved.
Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner, who is responsible for the key project, considers it to be of primary importance that citizens' everyday lives are made easier.
"One of the most important streamlining projects is the Act on Transport Services, which entered into force on 1 July. It has wide implications for society as a whole and for the everyday lives of citizens. After all, traffic and mobility are among the basic needs of daily life. The Act on Transport Services is a good example of how the ministries prepare for the future. The impacts of this Act may still be visible after a long time," says Minister Berner.
"This spring, for example, it has become possible to study more widely without losing the unemployment benefit. Reform of the Land Use and Building Act may sound distant, but it involves many issues associated with citizens' daily lives. The amendment improves consumers' possibilities to choose a heating option that suits them. The reform also promotes free competition on the heating market," Berner continues.
Development of electronic services underway
Streamlining is carried out actively not only in the ministries but also in agencies.
"The Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea is currently working on an online service so that citizens would be able to submit reports on adverse reactions to medicines more easily than at present," Berner says.
Electronic services have also been developed, for example, in the Ministry of Justice. Information in the register of bankruptcies and restructurings is available free of charge at the address www.maksukyvyttomyysrekisteri.om.fi. Administrative courts and special courts have launched their online service at https://asiointi2.oikeus.fi/hallintotuomioistuimet.
The Ministry of the Interior is actively implementing the portal for internal security. The portal is an interactive digital cooperation platform for the security authorities, experts, organisations, businesses, and the local and regional administration. Regional state administrative agencies have expanded their electronic services to employers.
The Finnish Immigration Service Migri is developing the use of robotics and artificial intelligence in customer service.
Together with the Finnish Government Shared Services Centre for Finance and HR (Palkeet), the State Treasury has launched development cooperation for the adoption of structured e-receipts in state administration.
One for One experiment to continue
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry tested the One for One principle in 2017. This means that any direct national additions to the regulatory burden on businesses are offset by equal reductions in the regulatory burden in another context.
On 14 June 2018, the ministerial working group for reforming operating practices agreed on continuing the experiment. Some other ministries, such as the Ministry of Transport and Communications, will also participate in the experiment, which will continue until the end of 2019.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has developed a regulatory burden calculator to support the One for One procedure. The purpose of the calculator is to help the law drafter in assessing the regulatory burden and to ensure the consistency of calculations. The Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis has also assessed the One for One experiment. In its opinion, the Council considered that it is good to continue and expand the experiment.
The streamlining of legislation will continue in the ministries, and the next reports on the results of the work will be released at the end of the year. The progress of the work can be followed through the website www.norminpurku.fi, the websites of the ministries and the Government's Project Window.
Reports on the ministries' projects in the spring term of 2018 are available at http://www.norminpurku.fi/hankkeet.
State Secretary Jari Partanen, tel. +358 40 591 1377
Director on Legal Affairs Silja Ruokola, tel. +358 40 580 0894
Main projects at the ministries in the spring term of 2018
Ministry of Transport and Communications
The Act on Transport Services, which brings together transport market legislation, entered into force on 1 July 2018. Its goal is to create customer-oriented transport services. The Act on Transport Services promotes fairness of competition on the passenger transport market and the competitiveness of service providers in both passenger and goods transport.
The current traffic control and management services of the Finnish Transport Agency (road, rail and marine traffic control) will be reorganised as a limited liability company and the tasks will be transferred to the specialised company to be established by the State. The traffic control company is scheduled to launch operations on 1 January 2019.
The Government has also proposed that the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi, the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, and certain operations of the Finnish Transport Agency be merged into a new agency, the Transport and Communications Agency. The current Finnish Transport Agency would continue under a different name. The matter is currently debated by Parliament.
Parliament has approved the reform of the legislation concerning roads. The amendments ensure the quality of road maintenance, improve quality control and share the responsibility for road maintenance. In addition, a framework is created for nationwide transport system planning encompassing all modes of transport.
The projects under way in autumn 2018 will be amendment of the Pilotage Act, national implementation of the EU laws on the safety of passenger vessels, the new Rail Transport Act, overhaul of the Water Transport Act, implementation of the regional government reform in the transport sector, and phase 3 of the Act on Transport Services.
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Reporting on bovine events will become easier. There is no longer any need to maintain a separate bovine list if the event reports (e.g. birth or passing away of an animal) are made directly to the online bovine register within 7 days.
The Act and Decree on the Food Agency harmonise and clarify administrative structures and strengthen the overall steering of the sector, while eliminating overlapping in steering. Efficiency and flexibility are increased and digitalisation is promoted in the sector by revising the manner in which information management services are produced.
The Act on parish granaries and seed funds will be repealed, thereby deleting outdated regulation. The assets in the discontinued parish granaries and seed funds can be transferred to activities promoting agriculture. This may have a local strengthening impact on municipal finances and agriculture.
The projects under way in autumn include the automation of decisions given by the financing system of sustainable forestry (Kemera) and the simplification of the definition of 'active farmer'.
Ministry of Justice
The Act on legal proceedings in administrative affairs will specify the regulation of the application of administrative law, intensify legal proceedings in administrative courts and develop the role of the Supreme Administrative Court as a court issuing preliminary rulings. Parliament is also debating legislation concerning the handling of personal data, which will supplement the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
The projects under way include reform of the Redemption Act, revision of the procedure concerning public notices, and elimination of the requirement for initial capital in a limited liability company.
Ministry of Education and Culture
Cooperation between daycare and the school is facilitated as part of reform of the legislation on early childhood education and care. The restrictions on retaking the matriculation examination are removed, and year-round application for upper secondary school is made possible. Apart from joint application, continuous selection of students is made possible in vocational education. The administrative workload of researchers and universities in applying for research funding is reduced. Universities have prepared joint criteria for certificate-based selections and have harmonised and simplified their entrance examination practices.
Ministry of Defence
The principal streamlining project for spring 2018 is the overall reform of the legislation on personal data in the Defence Forces. The goal is to gather together the data protection regulations concerning the Defence Forces into one law, which will enable more uniform, and thereby more easily applicable and more understandable, data protection regulation.
Development of the Act on voluntary national defence will be under way in autumn.
Ministry of the Interior
The Rescue Act is revised by amending its provisions on the organisation of chimney sweeping services and on property owners' obligations.
The Rescue Act and some other Acts are amended in order to implement the regional government reform and the changes resulting from the legislation concerning the reorganisation of the state's licensing, control and oversight tasks. The regulations on the building of civil defence shelters will also be revised.
Implementation will continue in autumn 2018. The interactive digital cooperation platform for the security authorities, experts, organisations, businesses and the local and regional administration (the portal for internal security) will be taken into use in full. The Money Collection Act will be reformed. Proposals for amendments to the Lotteries Act, or to the Decrees issued by virtue of the Act, will be prepared.
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
The overall reform of the Radiation Act clarifies the whole picture, streamlines licensing processes and emphasises operators' self-monitoring. Amendments are made to the biobank legislation to improve the flexibility of activities. The reform will combine the activities of biobanks and will take account of the impacts of the new EU data protection legislation.
The occupational safety and health authority (Regional State Administrative Agencies) has expanded its online services to employers. Preliminary notifications for construction work and asbestos demolition work can be submitted electronically on an online form. The data are transferred from the notification to the occupational safety and health authority's electronic monitoring system.
The legislation concerning the work activities of social welfare services will undergo reform during the autumn. The reform will focus on rehabilitative work activities, activities supporting the employment of people with disabilities, work activities of people with disabilities, and work activities and work coaching for people with intellectual disability. The aim is to reform the content of services so that they would better promote customers' work and functional capacity and their employment on the open labour market.
Fimea is currently implementing a new reporting and management system for adverse reactions to medicines. By means of this system, citizens can submit reports on adverse reactions to medicines online more easily.
Alongside the programme to revise child and family services, a family centre model will be created to cover the whole of Finland. It will be implemented using the key project funding of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and under the Ministry's supervision. Family centres will network low-threshold services for children and families so that they are more easily accessible to families than at present. Home care for older people is developed and family caregiving for all ages is strengthened.
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Citizens' daily lives have been made easier by enabling wider study options without losing the unemployment benefit. The prerequisites of businesses are improved by continuing the experiment associated with the application of the One for One principle. The aim is to curb the regulation costs caused by legislation to companies. The experiment will be continued until the end of 2019, and it will be expanded to new ministries. The scope of uses for apprenticeship training has been expanded. The licensing procedure for debt collection has been simplified by shifting from licensing to registration.
During the autumn, the Ministry will modernise the Working Hours Act and will increase flexibility in working hours. Competition in the electricity market is enhanced by creating a data hub. The lower limit for compulsory auditing will be raised.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
The Consular Services Act has been amended, as has the agreement on spouses signed with South Africa. During the autumn, some necessary national amendments will be made to the Consular Services Act, the Aliens Act will be revised, and amendments will be made to the agreements on spouses signed with Colombia and Peru.
Ministry of Finance
The current process of handling e-invoices in public administration can be made lighter by automation and robotics. To promote this objective, the piloting of a new system for order management and invoice circulation in state administration was started in May 2018. The Ministry of Finance has appointed a working group to prepare the national implementation of the Directive issued on electronic invoicing in public procurement, and to review other national development.
In autumn 2017, together with the Finnish Government Shared Services Centre for Finance and HR (Palkeet), the State Treasury launched development cooperation for the adoption of structured e-receipts in state administration. The structured e-receipt is an element in the general structurisation and digitalisation of information for financial administration, encompassing all actors in society. The goal is to pilot the structured e-receipt with Taxi Helsinki Oy during spring 2019.
To meet the wishes of organisations, in 2017 the Tax Administration published guidelines for the prepayment of tax in voluntary activities carried out by corporations for the public good and general government sectors. This is the first comprehensive set of guidelines concerning tax prepayment issues encountered by corporations for the public good, general government sectors and other organisations engaged in voluntary work.
It is also proposed that the maximum amount of mileage allowance paid to voluntary workers be changed. The maximum amount would be raised from the current 2,000 euros to 3,000 euros per calendar year. At the same time, the scope of application of tax-free reimbursement for travel expenses would be expanded to include, for instance, reimbursement for travel expenses received from the state, municipalities or parishes. The intention is for the amendments to enter into force at the beginning of 2019.
Ministry of the Environment
The Waste Act was amended to change the division of responsibility for municipal waste management. The change is based on the objectives of the Government Programme.
It is proposed that section 57a of the Land Use and Building Act be repealed. The section stipulates that the local detailed plan may require that the building is connected to the district heating network. The goal of the amendment is to improve consumers' possibilities to choose a heating option that suits them, thereby promoting free competition on the heating market.
The National Waste Plan up to 2030 encourages the circular economy and enterprise in the sector. The regional waste plans were abandoned at the same time.
The Government Decree on the utilisation of certain wastes in earthwork has been revised. The use of some wastes in earthwork no longer requires an environmental permit when certain conditions are met. However, the supervisory authority must be notified of the issue.
The Environmental Protection Act would include provisions on the new notification procedure, which means that certain operations would be shifted from the environmental permit procedure to the notification procedure. The Government submits its proposal during the last week of June.
The issues in progress during autumn include: the legislative project for a one-stop shop in environmental procedures; the adoption of electronic procedures for the permits specified in the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Act; amendment of the legislation concerning the protection of built heritage; the Government Decree on the discontinuation of the waste character of certain wastes; and revision of the legislation concerning the system of compensating for damage caused by protected animals.