Before the European Commission proposes new initiatives it assesses the potential economic, social and environmental consequences that they may have. Impact assessment is a set of logical steps which helps the Commission to do this. It is a process that prepares evidence for political decision-makers on the advantages and disadvantages of possible policy options by assessing their potential impact.
- The Commission believes that the most effective way of improving the quality of new policy proposals is by making those people who are responsible for policy development also responsible for assessing the impact of what they propose.
- To this end, the Commission has rolled out a wide-ranging impact assessment system. It is based on an integrated approach which analyses both benefits and costs, and addresses all significant economic, social and environmental impacts of possible new initiatives.
- This approach ensures that all relevant expertise within the Commission is used, together with inputs from stakeholders. In doing so, it also enhances the coherence of initiatives across policy areas.
- The Commission's system is both accountable and transparent. It strives for full involvement of stakeholders. All impact assessments and all opinions of the Impact Assessment Board on their quality are published online once the Commission has adopted the relevant proposal.
- Impact assessment also helps to explain why an action is necessary at the EU level and why the proposed response is an appropriate choice. It may of course also demonstrate why no action at the EU level should be taken.