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Friday, December 8, 2023

Administrative standards: the bosses are fed up

Watch out for end-of-year drinks. “If you offer a Christmas cocktail to your employees, it is considered a benefit in kind, on which you will have to pay social security contributions, whereas if you note that it is an end-of-year seminar, you You won’t pay for it, it’s ridiculous! » warns Pierre, at the head of an IT company with around fifty people. If this entrepreneur prefers to remain anonymous, it is because he was singled out by Urssaf on this subject…

The dematerialization of public services and administrative procedures which simplifies the lives of citizens


Business leaders recount Kafkaesque situations of this type in spades. They all explain that they no longer have the time to devote themselves to their activities as this inflation of administrative regulations, provisions from Brussels, codes, and protocols consumes and discourages them.

“In recent years, the train has run wild: to obtain financing from a bank, apply for a call for tenders, export, you have to complete declarations in terms of social responsibility, respect for diversity, justify your carbon footprint, etc. “, says Bruno Grandjean, exasperated. The CEO of Redex, a machine tool SME employing 300 people, warns: “These are all obstacles to our competitiveness. » Also the representatives of the bosses of small and large structures, Medef, CPME and U2P, decided to question Emmanuel Macron: “Simplify more, and faster”, they demand.

The moment was not chosen at random: on Tuesday, the head of state planned to request them. While the economic situation is getting tougher and unemployment is increasing, Emmanuel Macron wants to encourage them to put themselves in battle order to export and accelerate the reindustrialization of the country. The only problem is that these projects often come up against normative constraints. Of course, efforts have been made to shorten the time it takes to set up a factory from eighteen to nine months, but in France it is still almost a half year longer than across the Rhine. According to the OECD, France comes at the bottom of the list of countries where standards hinder competition the most, when the United Kingdom is 1st, Spain 2nd and Germany 4th.

Implementation of the DSN, the nominative social declaration

Last Wednesday, Bruno Le Maire, however, reopened the simplification project. The Minister of the Economy received the employers’ federations, inviting them to give their ideas and opinions to put an end to “national, local, European obligations, regulations that waste time and money”. Scalded, the entrepreneurs fear that the consultation will give birth to a mouse. Let the good intention stop at the call. And for good reason, this is not the first time they have heard this type of promise. Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande had also promised to lighten their bureaucratic burden. “But there was no follow-up, no long-term policy,” regrets a minister. Between 2014 and 2016, Thierry Mandon was Secretary of State for Simplification.

One of his prides? The implementation of the DSN, the nominative social declaration, which replaces those made to Urssaf, Health Insurance, retirement funds, etc. “This unique and rapid solution saves employers a lot of time, he congratulates himself. An independent firm has estimated the productivity gain at more than 1 billion euros. » An important step forward, but how many setbacks since then? “The problem is that we are not dealing with the flow of regulations; in other words, we don’t turn off the tap while we drain the bathtub”, regrets a ministerial advisor.

However, solutions exist. Inspired by Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, Thierry Mandon suggests launching a vast interministerial policy with ten-year planning objectives, and carrying out impact studies to assess the consequences of regulations. “The deposit for our economy is worth billions of euros, it’s pure gold! » summarizes the former minister.

In the meantime, Bruno Le Maire does not rule out a simplification bill next year, like the Pacte law or the text on influencers that he introduced. Aware, however, that “It will be a difficult fight.”