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Impact Assessment in the EU: A Tool for Better Regulation, Less Regulation or Less Bad Regulation?

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Impact Assessments (IAs) were introduced at the EU level under the rhetorical facade of 'better regulation'. The actual aim was to improve not only the quality but also the reputation of EU regulation before stakeholders. However, evidence brought forward by a number of evaluations pointed out that IAs are yet to achieve acceptable quality standards. The paper offers an overview of different disciplinary approaches for looking at IAs. It suggests that risk regulation encompasses the theoretical foundations to help understand the role of IAs in the EU decision-making process. The analysis of 60 early days preliminary IAs provides empirical evidence regarding policy alternatives, methodology of consultation and use of quantitative techniques. Findings suggest that dawn period IAs were used mainly to provide some empirical evidence for regulatory intervention in front of stakeholders. The paper concludes with assumptions about the future role of IAs at EU level.

Keywords: EU regulation; Impact assessment; better regulation; cost-benefit analysis; risk regulation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: King's Centre for Risk Management, King's College London, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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