Supplementary memorandum from the Department
for Business, Innovation and Skills
Does the government use UK Impact Assessments
in Council working group discussions?
It is Government policy that departments develop
a UK impact assessment as early as possible and that departments
should include it in an explanatory memorandum to Parliament on
a Commission proposal.
It is also Government policy that impact assessments
must accompany any proposal to clear cross-Government negotiating
lines on Commission proposals.
Two recent examples where impact assessment
informed were used by the UK in Council working groups are:
1. Implementing Measure for External Power Suppliesthis
measure aims to reduce power consumption of power supply units;
2. Implementing Measures for Simple Set Top Boxesthis
measure aims to reduce power consumption of devices that connect
to a television and an external source of signal.
To further encourage the use of Commission impact
assessments in Council working group debates, the UK is hoping
to work with like-minded member states to present a two-page summary
of Commission impact assessment to ensure discussion starts with
the Commission's views of potential costs and benefits. The aim
is that illustrating the costs and benefits in a condensed format
will make data more accessible and therefore increase evidence-based
discussion in Council.
To reinforce this, internal Government guidance
on negotiating Commission proposals, also encourages UK officials
to ask for a discussion of the Commission impact assessment in
Council working groups.
Can you provide examples of where Commission proposals
were not accompanied with an impact assessment?
The Better Regulation Executive conducted informal
consultation with a number of key EU facing UK departments and
agencies in preparation for the Committee's inquiry. This showed
that since the Commission extended its scope of measures subject
to impact assessment at the beginning of the year, it more systematically
produces impact assessments on measures in its annual work programme.
Nonetheless, further improvement is undoubtedly
necessary and we are working closely with both the Commission
and like-minded Member States to ensure that more and more Commission
proposals do have robust impact assessments. Three recent examples
where the Government found a Commission impact assessment missing
A proposal on rules for VAT electronic
invoicingthe Commission adopted a proposal to amend its
VAT directive in January 2009. The measure did not appear in its
annual work programme and an impact assessment was not produced
despite it having significant impacts. The UK estimates this proposal
could bring substantial annual savings to businesses.
A proposal on "clean cars"in
2007 the Commission adopted a proposal promoting clean and energy-efficient
road transport vehicles without an impact assessment.
A regulation agreed through comitology
implementing part of the Official Feed and Food Controls Regulation
came into force in January and created burdens on food businesses
that import certain foods from third countries. No impact assessment
was conducted by the Commission but the UK estimates this could
bring total costs of between £10.2 million and £21.6
million with total benefits of between only £2 million and
Despite the obvious improvement in the quantity
of impact assessments being produced by the Commission, the UK
is working hard with like-minded Member States to encourage the
Commission to go further in the following key areas:
ensuring that the Commission better quantifies
costs and benefits;
ensuring impact assessments are produced
on more comitology items with significant impacts by holding the
Commission to its promise to do this;
ensuring that measures developed in response
to the financial crisis are not rushed through without proper
evidence of the costs and benefits. Here for instance we are working
hard with Treasury to feed into the proposal to regulate hedge
funds and other alternative investment funds;
ensuring that Commission Roadmaps and
impact assessments better quantify costs and benefits;
ensuring that impact assessments are
produced in a user-friendly format through the help of impact
assessment summary sheets like we do here in the UK, containing
the key information from the main impact assessment eg intervention
options, costs and benefits; and
ensuring measures do not disproportionately
affect SMEs by making sure the principles of the EU Small Business
Act are applied in practice.
What evidence do we have of the European Parliament
and Council conducting impact assessments on substantive amendments
to Commission proposals?
It is fair to say that the European Parliament
and the Council do not have a good record of producing impact
assessments on their own substantive amendments to Commission
However it is worth noting that the Parliament
has done more recently. It has produced seven impact assessments
on its own substantive amendments. An example is of the Internal
Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee requesting an
impact assessment on substantive amendments to the proposal for
a Directive on nominal quantities for pre-packed products. This
impact assessment (1) clearly contradicted some of the Commission's
claims, (2) helped to better understand and better explain to
third parties the available policy options, and (3) was explicitly
used by several Member States to reach a better compromise in
Embedding the use of impact assessment in both
the Parliament and Council is imperative and the UK is looking
at ways to further this aim.
The Government is working with like-minded MEPs
to get formal agreement by key Committee Chairs to use Commission
impact assessments at first committee meetings to discuss new
proposals. In the Council, the UK is working with like-minded
Member States to use a two page summary of the Commission impact
assessment for a proposal as a basis for first discussion on a
We are also working with upcoming presidencies
to highlight why impact assessments should be discussed during
working groups. The Government works closely with a number of
other key Member States, including some who joined in 2004 to
reiterate the importance of using impact assessments in the Council.
At official, the UK has also sent better regulation secondees
to work in the Slovenian, Czech and Spanish Presidencies to prioritise
The upcoming review of the Inter Institutional
Agreement on better law-making presents an opportunity to get
renewed commitment from both the Council and Parliament to make
more use both of Commission impact assessments and impact assessments
on their own substantive amendments.
8 January 2010