The Executive Council has approved the Economic Activity Facilitation Bill, which aims to promote economic activity. The bill establishes approaches and tools intended to make the relationship between Catalan administrative bodies and companies and entrepreneurs more agile and efficient. The Minister of Business and Knowledge, Àngels Chacón, said the Catalan government is aware that “one of the main obstacles self-employed workers and companies face is bureaucracy”, and that the new legislation focuses on their needs “to make their lives easier”.
During a press conference following a meeting of the Executive Council, the minister said the legislation was “groundbreaking in Europe” because it would put into practice the “Only Once” principle, which means that “companies and entrepreneurs will only have to provide their data once to complete all required procedures with administrative bodies”. This principle, which is in line with EU guidelines, integrates the three levels of administration: Catalan, local and state.
The legislation, which includes unprecedented measures to facilitate economic activity, will benefit 564,000 companies and 362,000 self-employed workers (89% of companies and 91% of self-employed workers), generating savings of €38.4 million for these business actors.
Another novel aspect of the future law is the creation of an administrative fast track for “strategic business projects”. This measure facilitates the establishment of high value-added, technology-oriented companies, especially enterprises that will make investments in industry and logistics.
The bill, which will now be introduced in Parliament, provides for measures to cut red tape by minimising administrative intervention, offers proactive services for companies based on management and administration of their data, and establishes a new model for the relationship between companies and public administrations. This new model is based on mutual trust, a digital relationship by default, one-time provision of company data, elimination of unnecessary red tape, standardisation of procedures, speedy handling of administrative processes, and transparency.
The minister stressed that the project, which builds on a previous initiative known as the Single-Window Business Service, “is the result of collaboration between the Catalan government, through the Ministry of Business and Knowledge, and representatives of the various economic actors involved”.
New features and approaches introduced by the bill include:
- Measures to support strategic business projects. For the first time, an administrative fast track for business projects deemed to be of strategic importance is defined in regulations with the aim of facilitating high value-added business projects.
- Administrative bodies will move from handling forms to handling data (based on the “Only Once” principle).
- The bill reinforces the Single-Window Business Service as the model for the relationship between companies/professionals and administrative bodies, enabling them to complete all the procedures required for their activity via a single point of contact: Canal Empresa (“Business Channel”).
- Governance of this new model for the business-administration relationship revolves around two key bodies: the Commission for Facilitation of Economic Activity, which is charged with monitoring and assessing implementation of the measures provided for in the law and establishing mechanisms for collaboration between the Catalan government and local entities; and the Business Management Office, responsible for defining the strategy for implementing the Single-Window Business Service and coordinating its roll-out.
- The future law will regulate all economic activities, not just those which are innocuous or low-risk, based on a system of notification (with additional requirements for certain activities based on the level of risk and other factors).
- The new regulations represent a step forward in the simplification of administrative intervention. Administrative control will be minimised and will take place after businesses are set up.
- Payment of fees by electronic means.
- To ensure that minimisation of administrative intervention does not lead to regulations being violated, the proposed law establishes a system for monitoring activities after they have been initiated. This system, which will be applied in the absence of sector-specific regulations, will be proportional, non-discriminatory, transparent, objective and linked to the public interest.
The law will benefit 89% of Catalan companies, which employee 2.8 million workers (84% of the total). Ninety-one percent of self-employed workers will also benefit from the new regulations. It is estimated that the reduced number of procedures, greater transparency, simplification of procedures, and elimination of waiting time to start a business activity will save business actors €38.4 million a year.