The European Commission promised Tuesday to slash bureaucracy and increase transparency to meet demands led by eurosceptic Britain that the EU mind its own business and give member states more say.
"Eurosceptics don't annoy me because they are wrong, they annoy me because sometimes they are right," First Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said as he unveiled a long-awaited reform package.
"This Commission is determined to change both what the EU does and how it does it. Better regulation is therefore one of our top priorities," he told a press conference.
British Prime Minister David Cameron won re-election earlier this month promising an "in-out" referendum on Britain's EU membership by 2017, saying it was time to take back powers from Brussels.
Eurosceptic and nationalist parties made huge gains in European Parliament polls last year by capitalising on resentment against what is seen as an interfering EU which wants more powers than is good for member states, especially on such hot button issues as immigration.
Timmermans said 70 percent of European Union citizens thought the 28-nation bloc had become "too complicated and too burdensome."
To fix that problem, the Commission's "Better Regulation Package" would improve transparency and scrutiny of the entire EU legislative process, he told a press conference.
"We want to scrutinise better existing legislation and work with those who have to deal with implementation on the ground," he said.
A key instrument will be a system of "scrutiny boards" comprising three people from within the EU and three outside who will keep tabs on legislation as its goes through the EU.
Politicians will retain the final word, he said, explaining that the new system "will allow everyone to see what the cooks are doing in the kitchen."
At the same time, the bloc's "Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme," dubbed REFIT, which reviews existing legislation will be strengthened.
"REFIT will now become a fundamental part of the Commission's Annual Work Programme and of the Commission's political dialogue with the other institutions (of the EU)," said a statement from the Commission, using the sort of language which EU critics have frowned upon in the past.