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Smart regulation

OECD Peer Review Programme

The Commission's efforts to implement Better Regulation practices are unlikely to lead to significant progress unless they are matched by similar moves at the national level by Member States. Therefore, the Commission launched, with the assistance of the OECD (Directorate for public Governance and Territorial Development), an ambitious programme to assess trends in regulatory practices and gaps in relation to good practice.

The programme consisted of two phases:

  1. The management capacities of the 12 'new' Member States that joined the EU in 2004 were assessed within the framework of the SIGMA Programme (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management). This programme was a joint initiative by the European Union and the OECD, principally financed by the EU. It was launched in 1992 to help countries in Central and Eastern Europe modernise their public governance systems.

The regulatory management study was carried out by way of peer reviews, which means that one country's regulatory system was assessed by experts from another. The topics examined included:

  • origins of EU Better Regulation policy to provide a context for the studies;
  • regulatory management processes;
  • tools used in these processes (impact assessment, consultation, simplification, alternatives and accessibility);
  • enactment processes; and
  • enforcement of and compliance with laws, with particular reference to intellectual property and environmental legislation.

This phase was finalised in 2008 and each peer review led to a country report, although publication was left to the discretion of the Member State in question.

A summary report 'SIGMA Paper no 42: Regulatory management capacities of Member States of the European Union that joined the Union on 1 May 2004'  was drawn up, summarising all findings and making recommendations addressed to all new Member States.


  1. In 2007, DG Enterprise and Industry concluded an agreement with the OECD to assess the regulatory management capacities in the 15 'old' Member States, using the same methodology and under the same conditions as the SIGMA project, again focusing on peer review.

These EU 15 project was principally financed by the European Union and carried out within the scope of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. They provided an opportunity to join forces with a view to establishing a clear and comprehensive picture and analysis of regulatory management in Member States and to give them a strategic chance to reflect on progress made, the challenges they face, and to learn from the experiences of their peers.

In 2009, the ongoing peer review project was combined with the development of data collection and analysis on regulatory indicators to assess the link between regulatory management reforms and economic performance.

This additional phase responded to repeated requests expressed by various Council gatherings to enhance and complement ongoing Better Regulation reform efforts under the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. The final working paper established the link between existing practices and the available OECD indicators on regulatory management processes, the quality of the regulatory framework, and outcome/performance indicators, which ranged from GDP growth, productivity and innovation to stakeholder satisfaction.

The programme was finalised in 2010. An OECD Regulatory Policy Conference on the results project was organised by the OECD in October 2010.

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