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.
Impact assessments are prepared for Commission initiatives expected to have significant economic, social or environmental impacts. These can be:
Planning of impact assessments is communicated to the public via inception impact assessments.
The Commission's Impact Assessment system has undergone continuous improvements since it was set up in 2002. The latest Better Regulation Guidelines, covering the whole of the policy cycle from initiation to evaluation, were published in 2015. The toolbox accompanying the new guidelines provides complementary guidance on specific elements.