What it does
The Regulatory Scrutiny Board is an independent body within the Commission that advises the College of Commissioners. It provides central quality control and support for Commission impact assessments and evaluations at early stages of the legislative process (Figure 1). The Board’s work on impact assessments strengthens subsequent evaluations, and vice versa (Figure 2).
The Board reviews and issues opinions and recommendations on all the Commission's draft impact assessments, fitness checks, and on major evaluations of existing legislation. The Board also provides cross-cutting advice on better regulation policy to the Commission’s Secretariat-General.
Quality assurance role
The Board’s role is to provide quality assurance of Commission impact assessments, fitness checks, and major evaluations to the political level of the Commission, enabling it to take decisions on the basis of best available information and stakeholders’ views.
The Board examines and issues opinions on the quality of draft reports relating to:
- impact assessments, developed during the preparation of new initiatives
- major retrospective evaluations of a single policy or law, and fitness checks of multiple policies and laws
The Board opinions contain recommendations for Commission services on how to improve draft reports. The Board does not decide on initiatives or on policy objectives: that role belongs to the College of Commissioners.
How it works
Opinions issued by the Board on impact assessments can be ‘positive’, ‘positive with reservations’, or ‘negative’.
A positive/positive with reservations opinion is needed from the Board for an initiative accompanied by an impact assessment to be tabled for adoption by the Commission. In case of a negative opinion, the draft report must be reviewed and resubmitted to the Board before it can proceed. When the Board has given a negative opinion twice, it is only the Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight that may submit the initiative for the College of Commissioners to decide whether or not to go ahead.
The Board’s opinion accompanies the draft initiative together with the impact assessment throughout the Commission's political decision-making.
Opinions issued by the Board on evaluations can be either ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.
A negative opinion does not prevent the responsible Commission department from finalising and publishing the fitness check or evaluation report. However, they can resubmit the report for a second opinion by the Board on a voluntary basis. In either case, the lead department is always expected to improve their reports and to take the Board’s advice into account.
The Board does not review all Commission evaluations: only a number of major evaluations is selected each year, based on relevance and political priorities of the Commission. ‘Fitness checks’ are always scrutinised.
All impact assessments and the related opinions of the Board are published online once the Commission has adopted the relevant proposal. Reports of evaluations and fitness checks and the related Board opinions are also published online.
The board consists of 7 members:
- A Commission Director-General who chairs the Board;
- Three high-level Commission officials;
- Three experts recruited from outside the Commission
All members work for the Board full-time, with no other policy responsibilities, for a non-renewable term of three years, which can be extended by up to one year under exceptional circumstances. The Board acts independently from the policy-making departments and from any European institution, body, office or agency.
The Regulatory Scrutiny Board holds itself accountable. It publishes a report annually that presents what the Board has done to deliver on its mission. The annual reports also reflect on current trends and practices in better regulation policy as these pertain to the European Commission.