by Jakob Rustige (Original source: Jean Monnet Chair on EU Approach to Better Regulation, LUMSA University of Rome)
On May 20th the European Parliament published its annual report on activities undertaken in 2021 by its in-house research service EPRS in the ex-ante assessment and ex-post evaluation of legislative impacts, as well as of the added value of EU action.
In the 71-page document, the EPRS Directorate for Impact Assessment and European Added Value reports the completion of 114 works amounting to 4 432 pages of text within the last calendar year, available publicly on the Parliament’s Think Tank website and via the EPRS app.
Work on ex-ante impact assessment
Within the directorate, the Ex-Ante Impact Assessment Unit (IMPA) is mainly tasked with the review of the Commission’s impact assessments. The unit routinely summarizes and critically assesses these in so-called ‘Initial Appraisal’ briefings provided to the parliamentary committee dealing with the respective legislative initiative. 32 of such initial appraisals were produced in 2021.
As to the quality of the Commission’s impact assessments appraised by the unit, the annual report welcomes the increased use of modelling tools, as well as the strength of components supporting the methodological choices and transparency of the impact assessment. The most crucial component – the assessment of impacts – however, ‘continues to be found to be the weakest component’, the report critically notes. In particular, it finds that the screening of social and environmental impacts had often been incomplete and that not all relevant types of impacts, such as impacts on SMEs or on EU competitiveness, had been consistently assessed.
The unit also produced two (commissioned) substitute impact assessments, both requested by the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE). One concerned the e-Privacy Directive and the other the Commission’s ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’ package. In both cases, the Commission had refrained from preparing an impact assessment but the Committee had deemed such an assessment necessary.
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