Impact assessments are carried out on initiatives expected to have significant economic, social or environmental impacts. These can be:
- legislative proposals
- non-legislative initiatives (e.g. financial programmes, recommendations for the negotiations of international agreements)
- implementing and delegated acts
The findings of the impact assessment process are summarised in an impact assessment report. The quality of each report is checked by an independent body, the Regulatory Scrutiny Board, which issues opinions. The better regulation guidelines contain guidance for the Commission on how to conduct impact assessments. These are accompanied by a toolbox which provides complementary advice.
Impact assessment report
The impact assessment report must include a description of:
- the environmental, social and economic impacts, including impacts on small and medium enterprises and competitiveness, and an explicit statement if any of these are not considered significant
- who will be affected by the initiative and how
- the consultation strategy and the results obtained from it
The correct application of the principles of subsidiarity (no EU intervention when an issue can be dealt with effectively by EU countries) and proportionality (EU action does not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objectives) when developing policies is also assessed in impact assessments.
Cooperation between EU institutions
Impact assessment reports are published with the proposals or with acts adopted by the Commission. They are also sent to the EU lawmakers, the Parliament and Council, to consider as they decide on whether to adopt the proposed law.
The new interinstitutional agreement on better law-making acknowledges the positive contribution of impact assessments to improving the quality of EU legislation.
According to the agreement, the EU Parliament and the Council take full account of the Commission’s impact assessments when deciding on legislative proposals. The co-legislators can also carry out impact assessments in relation to substantial amendments during the legislative process.