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Peer reviewing power: a case for a European evidence ombudsman

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Background: The use of evidence in the European Union’s (EU) policymaking remains largely ad hoc, political and opaque. These flaws are substantial, with a residual lack of appropriate methodology and transparency in the selection and use of evidence - including from stakeholder consultations - to inform policymaking across all EU institutions.

Aims and objectives: To build on previous research and suggest a systematic solution to improving the use of evidence in EU policymaking.

Methods: The solution was assessed using principles of good governance of evidence.

Findings: This paper presents the idea of a European Evidence Ombudsman (EEO), a body to systematically and independently make proposals to improve the EU’s governance.

Discussion and conclusion: Through better evidenced and more transparent policymaking, the EEO could help improve the legitimacy, quality and predictability of the EU’s legislation. Its mandate could include designing, recommending, and upon their approval by the EU institutions, enforcing improvements to evidence governance. This advisory mandate could see validated methods to select and weigh evidence in a transparent manner become a norm. Through using pre-existing EU expertise and engaging independent academics, the ombudsman could have a role as an evidence ambassador, providing an independent voice to strongly criticise the misuse of evidence, and improve evidence accountability and governance across all EU institutions.


Key messages
  • Policymaking across all EU institutions lacks appropriate methodology and transparency in the selection and use of evidence

  • It also lacks institutional incentives to improve

  • A European Evidence Ombudsman (EEO), could systematically and independently make proposals to improve the EU’s governance, and upon their approval by the EU institutions, enforce them
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Keywords: EU; evidence and policy; evidence-informed policymaking; scientific advice

Affiliations: Maastricht University, Netherlands

Appeared or available online: November 11, 2020

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