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A year and a half of the Better Regulation Agenda: what happened?

January 30th 2017

More than 1½ years have passed since the adoption of the European Commission’s Better Regulation Agenda in May 2015.  That time is sufficient to allow scrutiny on implementation and on achievement in meeting the Commission’s own objectives. The Impact Assessment Institute (IAI) has scrutinised Impact Assessments in depth and analysed the Commission’s September 2016 progress report on Better Regulation.


Implementation of the Better Regulation Agenda shows too many contradictions.  The Commission has consistently expressed its intention to be “big on the big things”.  This implies that all legislative proposals have substantial impacts and all should therefore be subject to Impact Assessment.  However, many legislative proposals are adopted without an Impact Assessment.


The IAI recommends that legislative proposals are - by default - supported by an Impact Assessment.  In addition, the Commission urgently has to enable full public scrutiny of the data and analysis underlying all Impact Assessments, in particular complex analytical models. Transparency of the policy making process is duly absent with a lack of trust as a result.


Analysing stakeholders consultations shows that the Commission has to improve the way in which consultation is used.  Consultations and evaluation of their results should generate coherent evidence.  The current risk is that wrong conclusions are drawn from flawed statistical analysis.  Moreover, stakeholders need to be fully informed about how their input was treated.


As a basic principle, the Commission should ensure that all Impact Assessments use neutral language, avoiding biased rhetoric and assumptions.  Impact Assessments must be compiled without working towards predefined policy conclusions.


The IAI recommends that the Commission, with the leadership of First Vice President Timmermans, implement the changes necessary to secure the Better Regulation Agenda.


The IAI also invites stakeholders to share their experiences with the Better Regulation Agenda and to push for further improvements.

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