Important opportunities in the development of EU digital policy are being missed due to inconsistent digital assessment, according to a new IAI study. In the dynamically changing digital space, a broad and inclusive analysis of the effect of ICT on all areas of policy is necessary to capture fully its potential contributions. Solutions include conducting a high level digital screening for all EU initiatives early in the policy process, simplification of the European Commission’s Digital Assessment Tool and enhancement of public consultation.
The Impact Assessment Institute has compiled a study reviewing the form and execution of the European Commission’s tool for Digital Assessment in EU policy. The study is intended as a stimulus for further stakeholder discussion on how EU policy can most effectively benefit from digital technologies.
The Digital Assessment Tool, part of the Commission’s comprehensive Better Regulation Toolbox, is an important measure supporting digital policy making. However, a number of enhancements of the Tool are necessary to articulate a coherent Digital Assessment process and simplify its use for all authors of Impact Assessment.
A review of the use of Digital Assessment by the European Commission indicates it was employed on all relevant legislative initiatives between January 2016 and July 2017. However, the considerations required by the tool were applied inconsistently in many cases. This was found to be the case most often for initiatives for which digital was one of the contributing elements. However, it was also prevalent for initiatives whose main subject matter is digital, for which a robust Digital Assessment would have been expected.
Further, a number of initiatives were found not to be relevant to the digital agenda according to their policy content, but a broader interpretation could have identified options for digital/ICT to contribute. To facilitate identification of opportunities, a high level digital screening is recommended for all policy initiatives at the earliest stage in the legislative process.
Enhancement of public consultation conducted by the European Commission is also necessary. In particular, less frequent use of multiple-choice questionnaires and subsequent numerical evaluation of their results is recommended.