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Public consultation on the revision of the Commission's Impact Assessment Guidelines


Public consultation on the revision of the Commission's Impact Assessment Guidelines

A) Background for the public consultation:

The European Commission ("the Commission") is determined to meet policy goals at minimum cost, benefitting citizens, businesses and workers while avoiding all unnecessary regulatory burden. This is key to support growth and job creation – allowing the EU to ensure its competitiveness in the global economy while maintaining social and environmental sustainability.

EU legislation must be smart in achieving its public objectives: demonstrating clear added value, delivering full benefits at minimum cost and respecting the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The final result must be a simple, clear, stable and predictable regulatory framework for businesses, workers and citizens. EU legislation must be fit for purpose and remain so as problems evolve, new solutions emerge and political priorities change.

To achieve this, the Commission employs a wide set of smart regulation tools covering the full policy-cycle, from when a policy is designed to when it is implemented, evaluated and revised. Impact assessment is one such tool, operating at the early stage of the policy cycle, when new proposals are being developed. It contributes to the quality of policy-making by ensuring that Commission initiatives and proposals for EU legislation are prepared on the basis of transparent, comprehensive and balanced evidence on the nature of the problem to be addressed, the added value of EU action and the cost and benefits of alternative courses of action for all stakeholders. While the adoption of a policy proposal remains a political decision by the Commission, better informed policy-making contributes to better policies.

The Commission's impact assessment system was first established in 2002 and is performed for all proposals likely to have significant direct impacts. It has undergone continuous strengthening over the years with the establishment of the Impact Assessment Board (IAB) in 2006 as an independent quality checker, the publication of revised guidelines in 2009 and complementary guidance on various categories of impacts (competitiveness and micro-enterprises, fundamental rights, social and territorial impacts) since then. The system has been assessed by numerous actors to be on par with international standards, ensuring comprehensive and transparent assessments subject to rigorous scrutiny.

As announced in 2012, the Commission committed itself to review its impact assessment guidelines in 2014. While the Commission considers the 2009 Guidelines to remain largely relevant, there is always scope for improvement, including by updating and streamlining some sectoral guidance that was developed after 2009 . In its preliminary revision of the guidelines, the Commission has drawn upon an analysis of the experience so far, a European Court of Auditors' evaluation , annual IAB Reports , an ad-hoc preparatory study by leading experts in the field and relevant OECD documentation.

The new guidelines set out the parameters of the Commission's impact assessment system, outline the questions that must be asked during an impact assessment process, and explain the fundamental principles that should be respected when answering them.

B) Questions:

Stakeholders are invited to answer the following questions and/or provide any other comments.

General questions on the draft Impact Assessment Guidelines (annex I)

1. In line with international best practice, the Commission's Impact Assessment system is an integrated one, covering costs and benefits; using qualitative and quantitative analysis; and examining impacts across the economic, environmental and social areas. Do you agree that this is the right approach?

2. Do you agree with the scope of coverage of proposals requiring an impact assessment? If not, why not?

3. Are the appropriate questions being asked in the Impact Assessment guidelines? Are there other issues that the impact assessment should examine? How would this help to improve the quality of Commission policy proposals?

4. Do you have any other suggestion on how to improve the guidance provided to Commission services carrying out an impact assessment and drafting an impact assessment report?

Specific questions (annex II)

5. Problem analysis: do you think the draft text in annex II.B provides a clear description of the issues to be taken into account when analysing a problem? If not, how should it be improved?

6. Subsidiarity: do you think the draft text in annex II.C provides a clear description of the issues to be taken into account when verifying compliance with the subsidiarity principle? If not, how should it be improved?

7. Objectives: do you think the draft text in annex II.D provides a clear description of the issues to be taken into account when setting out objectives? If not, how should it be improved?

8. Option identification: do you think the draft text in annex II.E provides a clear description of the steps to be followed when identifying alternative policy options? If not, how should it be improved?

9. Identification of impacts: Is the list of questions included in the 2009 guidelines (see annex II.F) considered complete and up-to-date? Are there any impacts that should be added or taken out?