Input moments in the EU come in various shapes and sizes. Ever since the Better Regulation Agenda has been launched, official (public) consultations opportunities have become obligatory for almost every part of the EU policy cycle.
The Commission organizes these public consultations on two different websites: Have your Say and Consultations. Another website where stakeholder input is collected is Lighten the Load, which is where you can upload your submissions for the REFIT-platform.
The REFIT-platform is part of the Regulatory Fitness Program (REFIT). The Platform is made out of two different groups, the Stakeholder group and the Government Group. The purpose of the REFIT-Platform is to allow stakeholder input on EU legislation. Through it, you can upload your technical bottlenecks regarding EU legislation. Its mandate does not extend to the political, it can only incorporate technical or administrative issues. The adoption procedure of the REFIT-platform is a two-tier system. Opinions first have to be adopted by the Stakeholder group before they can proceed to the Government group.
The ‘Have your say’ website is used by the Commission for feedback on roadmaps, inception impact assessments, proposals and draft acts. This website allows you to have feedback on documents.
On this website, the Commission asks for input on Impact Assessments, evaluations and other finalized documents. This website allows you to have feedback on finalized documents.
On the website Lighten the Load, the Commission collects stakeholder input. These submissions are then scrutinized by the Commission and forwarded to the REFIT-platform.
Depending on the issue and the status of your legislation, your input should come in different forms. It’s wise to consult your experts again, in order to ensure that your input is up to par. The most common form of input in the EU is the position paper. Other forms could be: infographic, questionnaire, elevator pitch, seminar, fitness check evaluation (which are usually pretty intensive). The consultation strategy in the roadmap or inception impact assessment describes what kind of input the Commission will be looking for. This strategy also determines the form of open consultations.
Since the adoption of the BRA-package, the Commission is obligated to involve stakeholders in every step of the policy-cycle.
No matter which form of input you might choose, it is wise to also consult your experts.
The most common input type is the position paper. This can be uploaded through several beforementioned official public consultations. A few general guidelines for a position paper are:
- The size does not exceed two pages, in order to keep it manageable and readable;
- Your position has to be made clear and should (if possible) offer alternatives. These strengthen your position, because you’re delivering constructive input and showing how the legislation could be improved;
- If possible, statistics and data should be provided as attachments/annexes. Data always provides a foundation upon which your position paper can rely.
You could ask your experts to provide statistics and data, in order to substantiate your position paper.
Another way of input is in the form of an infographic. A good example is the BRIDGE-infographics. As you can see, the BRIDGE publication combines a clear infographic with information and alternatives in bullet points. Technical details and a more elaborate explanation can be added in an accompanying annex. You should draft the bullet points, infographic and alternatives in accordance with your experts. The combination of visual and textual elements gets your message across!
As discussed before, sometimes the Commission requests feedback through a questionnaire. These can consist of up to 20 questions and usually have a blank form where it is possible to submit a short outline of your position. Your experts can play an important role in this form of feedback. If they are up for it, you could assign different questions to different experts. Another approach could be to discuss the entire questionnaire in a focus group.
Depending on the consultation strategy, seminars or conferences are organised by the Commission to discuss and collect input. The Commission usually invites experts or stakeholders from a specific policy area to attend these conferences. This is once again a moment where your experts can play a role.