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Background - Impact Assessment


The Göteborg European Council (June 2001) and the Laeken European Council (December 2001) introduced two political considerations:

  • to consider the effects of policy proposals in their economic, social and environmental dimensions; and
  • to simplify and improve the regulatory environment in the EU.

As agreed at the Göteborg and Laeken European Councils, in 2002 the Commission established a new method for impact assessment, which integrated and replaced the previously used single-sector type assessments. This method follows an integrated approach which assesses the potential impacts of new legislation or policy proposals in economic, social and environmental fields.

This new impact assessment system is an action of the Better Regulation Action Plan and of the European Strategy for Sustainable Development, and later the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs (2005).

It consists of a balanced appraisal of all impacts, and is underpinned by the principle of proportionate analysis, whereby the depth and scope of an impact assessment, and hence the resources allocated to it, are proportionate to the expected nature of the proposal and its likely impacts. Wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders is an integral part of the impact assessment process.