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Impact Assessments

The European Commission uses impact assessments widely to provide evidence and information when making decisions on trade policy. This is part of the European Commission's Better Regulation Agenda, which aims to boost transparency in EU policy-making.

Impact assessments identify problems and possible solutions; and describe the likely economic, environmental, social and whenever relevant, human rights impacts of those solutions.

For trade agreements, they aim to answer such questions as:

  • Is a trade negotiation the best way to improve our trade relations with the specific partner?
  • Which issues should be covered in the negotiation?

To answer these questions, an impact assessment must:

  1. verify the existence of a problem
  2. identify its underlying causes
  3. assess whether EU action is needed
  4. analyse the advantages and disadvantages of available solutions and their impacts
  • An impact assessment also includes an on-line public consultation of interested parties.

When completed, the impact assessment identifies the best course of action to take and accompanies the proposal when it is submitted to the EU member states.

Completed assessments

Establishment of a Multilateral Investment Court for investment dispute resolution

EU-Australia and EU-New Zealand free trade agreements

Modernisation of the trade part of the EU-Chile Association Agreement

Enhancement of the EU-Turkey bilateral trade relations and the modernisation of the Customs Union

Proposal to amend the EU's anti-dumping and anti-subsidy legislation - TDI China

Review of the EU dual-use export control regime – Regulation 428/2009

Modernisation of the trade pillar of the EU-Mexico Global Agreement

Proposal for a Regulation setting up a Union system for supply chain due diligence self-certification of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas

Reports

Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations on an agreement between the European Union and Myanmar/Burma on investment protection

Reports

Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations for the conclusion of an investment agreement between the European Union and the Republic of China

Reports

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1225/2009 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community and Council Regulation (EC) No 597/2009 on protection against subsidised imports from countries not members of the European Community

Reports

Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the opening of negotiations on a comprehensive trade and investment agreement, called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, between the European Union and the United States of America

Reports

Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the opening of negotiations on a free trade agreement between the European Union and Japan

Reports

Proposal for a Regulation applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences

Reports

How are the assessments carried out?

Better Regulation Agenda

The better regulation agenda is about designing and evaluating EU policies and laws transparently.

Better regulation: why and how

Impact assessments are prepared by Commission services in accordance with the related Better Regulation Guidelines and Better Regulation Toolbox.

Additional Guidelines on the analysis of human rights impact in impact assessments of trade-related policy initiatives provide a tailor-made guidance for analysing human rights impact of trade agreements.