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Ex-ante Impact Assessment in the EU

Written by Claudio Collovà

What comes to your mind if we say ‘impact assessment’?

Ex-ante impact assessment analyses the likely effects of important policy initiatives, including draft laws, and the reasoning behind them, before European institutions take a decision on them.

The EU institutions have been doing this for over 10 years, attempting to improve the quality of legislation and to move towards more evidence-based policy making.

Ex-ante Impact Assessment in the EU

© Amir Kaljikovic / Fotolia

The European Commission has produced more than 700 impact assessments since 2007, 250 of which have been issued since 2012. The European Parliament scrutinises the work of the Commission to see that its analyses meet set quality standards. Parliament’s impact assessment service has published over 100 pieces of work to this end since June 2012. Parliament also sometimes produces its own impact assessments on Commission proposals and on its own amendments to those proposals. The Council of Ministers, for its part, has recently asked its working groups to consider the Commission’s impact assessment in detail before looking at the substance of any proposal for new legislation.

Impact assessment is a tool for political decision-makers, from European Commissioners, to Members of the European Parliament, to Ministers. It helps them in taking decisions.

Impact assessment aims to answering simple questions. What is the problem? What should we do about it? Who should act? What are the options? What would they result in? Who would be affected? How can we check on progress afterwards?

The answers given to these questions should be supported by evidence and balanced, across the economic, social and environmental dimensions; across the 28 countries that make up the European Union, and beyond, taking account of the interests of all concerned. Not an easy task, you may say.

‘I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.’ Woodrow Wilson said.

If we use all the brains we have within the EU institutions, and, most importantly, if we use all the brains we can borrow outside, we, in the EU institutions, can attempt to answer these questions. It is only by listening to those most directly affected that we can be sure that decisions are being taken in full knowledge of the facts.

Empowering through knowledge.
Read the Briefing ‘How does ex-ante Impact Assessment work in the EU?’ in PDF

About IMPA

The European parliament's Ex-Ante Impact Assessment team analyses the quality of impact assessments (IAs) produced by the European Commission, in the form of initial appraisals, and offers parliamentary committees a range of follow-up services, including more detailed appraisals of Commission IAs, substitute or complementary IAs, and IAs on parliamentary amendments.


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