This inquiry was launched in summer 2009 in order to investigate the progress of the EU Better Regulation agenda. The agenda has been running since 2005 with the aim of cutting red tape, reducing administrative burdens and improving the legislative process by means of impact assessment. In January 2009, new Impact Assessment Guidelines were issued, which, among other things, introduced the inclusion of an "SME test", that is, an assessment of the particular impact any likely legislation would have on small businesses, to the standard Commission impact assessment.
This report focuses to a large extent on the impact assessment process, in particular how IAs are produced, the role of the Impact Assessment Board in monitoring their quality, and their subsequent use by the European Institutions.
The intention of this report is to take the views of various stakeholders in EU better regulation and to suggest areas where further examination might be necessary. We therefore make very few firm conclusions. However, it does seem to be the case that the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament are not making as full use of impact assessments as they might.
Certain other areas have been highlighted where the situation is unclear and further investigation might be warranted. These include the conformity of IAs to the Guidelines, the production and use of IAs on comitology proposals, the adequacy of consultation exercises in the preparation of assessments, whether the SME test is working and the use of ex-post evaluation.