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The New European Regulatory Impact Assessment - In Theory and Practice

Ekkehard Hofmann

elni Review 2007, Issue 1,  pp. 9-17. https://doi.org/10.46850/elni.2007.002

With its communication on impact assessment of June 5, 2002, the European Commission has initiated a new era concerning the preparation and explanation of European legislative action. The Commission now strives for an integrated assessment of all major initiatives, taking into account each and every segment concerned. The Commission expressly thought of the introduction of the “Regulatory Impact Assessment” (RIA) as a means of justifying a chosen policy option. The impact assessment process is part of the Commission’s efforts to implement the subsidiarity principle (Art. 5 section 2 TEEC) in the area of governance and better lawmaking. According to the Secretariat General, the process aims to improve the quality of Commission proposals as well as to improve and simplify the regulatory environment.
This paper explicates the basic features of the Commission’s approach, illustrated by three examples for impact assessments that have been carried out under the new regime: it focuses on the question as to how recent impact assessment practice fared compared to the standards set by the Commission itself. However, the (potential) role of assessment reports as a means to foster transparency even in the judicial context seems to be underdiscussed in the literature. Hence, the article examines the material legal requirements concerning the substance of governmental reasoning, and legal demands as to whether and how to present explanatory statements under Community law. In the end, there is an attempt to assess the pros and cons of using assessment reports as statements of basis and purpose pursuant Art. 253 TEEC.

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