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I'm translating a Russian news article in which the head of a Russian region says that the regional government will help a plant construction project - by reducing some "administrative barriers" (административные барьеры). The phrase is the same in Russian as in English, and it is used in English-language media, according to my Google News search. However, I recall that there's also the phrase "regulatory hurdles", and it's used much more widely in the media. Can I use it as a synonym of "administrative barriers"?

Mr. Ivanov pointed out that the Oblast Government will take part in the project by offering tax privileges, reducing administrative barriers and helping the project pass through a variety of expert reviews.

Mr. Ivanov pointed out that the Oblast Government will take part in the project by offering tax privileges, reducing regulatory hurdles and helping the project pass through a variety of expert reviews.

Original:

Иванов уточнил, что область будет участвовать в проекте предоставлением налоговых льгот, снижением административных барьеров, помощью при прохождении разного рода экспертиз.

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The two expressions administrative barriers and regulatory hurdles arise from similar rhetorical situations, but are not identical. Neither is value-neutral.

Administrative barriers arise from, say, permit and inspection processes that in special cases might be expedited so a major project can move ahead quickly. The order and efficacy of such administrative tasks remain; they're just accomplished faster. The implication is that government is needlessly slow, but for this project, we're going to light a fire under the bureaucrats and make 'em earn their salaries.

Regulatory hurdles, however, are government regulations seen as impeding some greater public good — or unnecessarily burdening private enterprise — though there may be legitimate reasons for those regulations in the first place. "Regulations" protect public health and the environment, for instance. This is obviously the more politically loaded term, as it makes exceptions in the regulatory process rather than merely speeding it up.

Which term you use will depend on context, your own political assumptions, or those of the person you're quoting.

  • Thank you! Equating the two would imply that regulations are nothing more than a barrier to progress, as some people seem to think. – Mike Harris Jan 18 '18 at 20:06
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Both are fine. Since this is a news article, you could use red tape instead:

red tape noun [ U ] disapproving

official rules and processes that seem unnecessary and delay results:

  • We must cut through the red tape.

Cambridge Dictionary

Note that in the UK, the term red tape is used informally by politicians, not just journalists.

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It depends if the "administrative barriers" come from something other than regulations. If all of the "administrative barriers" are due to having to comply with various regulations, then yes, you could call them "regulatory hurdles". (In case you don't know, a 'hurdle' is a small barrier designed to be jumped over, during a race).

However, if some (or all) of the barriers come from something other than the need to comply with regulations, it wouldn't be a correct substitution.

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