REVIEW #16: How Looking Back Can Help EU Move Forward: Case of Gold-Plating

Olga Łabendowicz for Review

Gold-plating is still one of the main factors disrupting the European Single Market. Not only does it unjustly disadvantage national businesses and consumers, but it also reduces the competitiveness of the European Union (EU) as a global player by increasing administrative costs and fracturing the internal market. Thus, preventing gold-plating is among the top explicit tasks of the EU in reducing barriers to the single market.

The recent humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has, among other things, illuminated the path of de-bureaucratization and trusting more in the self-regulation of persons both for the EU and its member states as a way to move forward. This path aligns with the aforementioned task of the EU to abolish gold-plating. 

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The common practice among the member states to overachieve when transposing directives not only harms the functioning of the EU, but also hurts national economies and citizens. However, many of the countries do not have any serious concerns about gold-plating and practice it without taking due consideration of its effects. Given the multiple negative implications that gold-plating has – both at the EU and national level – tackling it should be in the crosshairs not only of the EU, but also its members.

Yet, the question of whether the European Union can be held as an example when talking about reducing gold-plating shall be considered. In recent years, the EU legislator has shown indications that it is on the verge of gold-plating itself out of the global market. Years of observations of both national- and EU-level lawmaking (its quality and culture in particular) suggest that there are, unfortunately, more similarities than differences. 

Meanwhile, the European Union should serve as an example of a non-gold-plating policy. The path to move forward is being motivated out of the willingness to create a fostering environment for all, rather than regulate based on fear of the unknown and by restricting a person’s ability to act. The former is the impetus for connecting to the world (i.e., reality) to develop and thrive, while fear compels separation as a means of protection for oneself and the ones we care about.


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Karolina Mickute