Regulatory Scrutiny Board
The Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB) was first announced in the Better Regulation Communication, alongside the REFIT-platform and other initiatives. The RSB was established in 2015 as a part of the Better Regulation Communication and replaced the Impact Assessment Board.
The RSB consists out of seven members: the Chair, three High-Level Commission officials and three experts from outside the Commission. They are all appointed for a duration of three years. Even though the RSB it is formally a part of the Commission, the Board operates independently and is not allowed to ask for or take direction from the European Commision.
The mission of the RSB
The mission of the RSB is to improve the quality of impact assessments (IA), evaluations and fitness checks. The Board evaluates these initiatives based on better regulation principles laid down in the Better Regulations Guidelines and checks if the minimum requirements are met. The depth and scope of the analysis depend on the significance of the initiative. Dependent on the type of legislation in question (see table at the theory module Political Validation), the Board provides or does not provide its opinion.
It is important to note that the opinions of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board are not legally binding, the Commission can, therefore, disregard a negative opinion on an impact assessment if it wishes to do so. In 2016, the Commission published only one Impact Assessment with a negative review and in 2017 two.
In case of a negative opinion, a second opinion by the RSB is final. In 2016, 42% of all the opinions issued by the RSB were negative, prompting the lead DG to resubmit its draft impact assessment. In 2017, the Board introduces a new kind of opinion: “Positive with reservations” which meant that the Board identified aspects of the IA which had to be improved, but that this did not warrant a negative opinion. All opinions of the Board on impact assessments are published online here.
In 2017 the RSB issued out the following opinion: out of 53 issues opinions, 12 were positive (23%), 23 were negative (43%) and 18 were positive with reservations (34%).
Workflow of the Board
The Regulatory Scrutiny Board’s core activities and workflow are provided schematically below.
Every draft impact assessment needs to be submitted to the RSB before the inter-service consultation on the proposal can be launched. If the RSB deems the assessment to be sufficient, it issues a positive opinion. However, the assessment still has to be amended in order to incorporate recommendations by the Board. If the Board concludes that substantial improvements on a number of significant issues are needed, the RSB issues a negative opinion. The author service then has the opportunity to amend and improve the assessment.
Evaluations and Fitness Checks
For evaluations and Fitness Checks, the Board provides an opinion on the quality of the draft evaluations and recommends improvements. The Board also provides opinions for the Staff Working Documents (SWD’s). The Board only presents its opinion on major evaluations or Fitness Checks. These opinions will be published on the RSB website and the involved lead DG is expected to address the opinion and recommendations of the Board. You can find the opinions of the Board here.
Other activities of the Board
Besides analysing and delivering opinions, the Board also engages in other activities. It holds upstream and downstream meetings. Upstream meetings are usually held with relevant DGs within the Commission in order to advise and identify challenges early on in the policymaking process. Downstream meetings are outreach activities with other European institutions and European and national independent regulatory watchdogs. Moreover, the Board hosts an annual conference where it presents its annual report.