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Impact Assessment

Before the European Commission proposes a new initiative, it assesses the need for EU action and the potential economic, social and environmental impacts of alternative policy options in an impact assessment.

Impact assessments are prepared for Commission initiatives expected to have significant economic, social or environmental impacts. These can be:

  • legislative proposals,
  • non-legislative initiatives (eg white papers, action plans, financial programmes, negotiating guidelines for international agreements) that define future policies,
  • implementing and delegated acts

Planning of impact assessments is communicated to the public via inception impact assessments. Stakeholders are consulted on all key aspects of an impact assessment during its preparation.

The latest Better Regulation Guidelines (2015) contain guidance on how Commission Services conduct impact assessments. These are accompanied by a toolbox which provides complementary guidance for Commission staff on specific impact assessment elements.

All draft impact assessment reports have to be submitted for quality scrutiny to the Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB) (which replaced the Impact Assessment Board on 1 July 2015). A positive opinion is in principle needed from the Board for an initiative accompanied by an impact assessment to proceed. RSB opinions are published alongside the final impact assessment report and proposal at the time of adoption.

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