Other European Research on IA
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The large majority of European governments and the institutions of the European Union have undertaken initiatives to assess the potential impacts of their proposed policies and regulations. The process of Impact Assessment (IA) aims to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of regulation by providing policy makers with information on likely costs and benefits, stimulating early interdepartmental coordination, and promoting the involvement of the stakeholders. The objective is to enable decision-makers to choose the policy option with the greatest benefits at lowest costs, broadly defined. When first introduced, Impact Assessment procedures focused on the economic impacts of regulations. Later on, a number of countries developed other procedures to assess impacts on a wider range of issues such as the environment, social issues, gender, small and medium sized enterprises

These various approaches have been applied with different degrees of rigour and success. To achieve additional momentum, efforts have been made in recent years to establish new forms of integrated IA that allow a comprehensive assessment of all possible impacts of new legislation – economic, social and environmental - including unintended side effects and the assessment of inter-linkages between these different issues of concern. The integration of the different IA procedures aims to improve the quality of regulation, to avoid possible adverse effects on competitiveness and to strengthen the implementation of sustainable development.

IA procedures vary from country to country regarding the level of institutionalisation, the scope of analysis, the consideration of alternative policy instruments, and the choice of methodological approaches. So far, there has been no comprehensive study that looks at the actual effects of IA on policy outputs - including whether integrated IA actually leads to the mainstreaming of formerly marginal objectives or whether it creates a bias towards certain types of impacts. EVIA will substantially advance our knowledge about the overall practice of integrated IA across Europe and more specifically about its actual effects, quality standards and institutional practices. The two-year research project (February 2006 to January 2008) will make a significant contribution to current academic debates, while at the same time delivering operational standards of good practice for performing and evaluating integrated Impact Assessment.

Key research questions

EVIA will address the following key research questions:

  • How can the concept of 'quality of IA' be defined and appraised?
  • How can we measure the impact of IA on the beliefs of regulators, the perceptions of the stakeholders, and the policy outputs?
  • How is the effectiveness of IA affected by the nature of the regulatory system, the type of policy problems, the use of alternative policy instruments, and the networks of stakeholders involved in 'better regulation' policies?
  • To what extend are regulators and stakeholders familiar with and seek to employ different quantitative methods and tools and what has been their experience in practice?
  • Can we identify good practices in using these methods and tools, and what criteria should we use to select them?

EVIA will mainly draw on comparative case studies and surveys of practitioners to evaluate IA systems. Case studies will be selected from IAs that have been conducted by the European Commission between 2003 and 2005, and from recent IAs in the EU Member States and other countries. These will include countries that have a long experience in IA, as well as those that have recently introduced IA systems or revised them.


The objectives of the project will be achieved in four work packages:
- WP1: Developing a Framework of Analysis. A comprehensive survey of the full set of IAs undertaken at EU and national levels will be carried out based on a review of the literature and relevant policy documents. This will form the basis of a typology of IAs and inform the development of indicators to measure the quality and outcomes of IA. The survey will also underpin the development of a semi-structured questionnaire for the case studies.
- WP2: Case Studies and the European Observatory on Impact Assessment. Selected case studies will be used to assess how the outcome of IAs is affected by different types of regulation, the overall institutional setting, and the methods and tools that have been employed. In addition, a comprehensive database - the European Observatory on Impact Assessment - will be set up and made available via a web site.
- WP3: Practitioner Survey. Based on the results of the case studies, a survey of IA practitioners will be conducted to further refine the success conditions for effective IA and place them on a broad empirical basis. Officials and units responsible for the conduct of IA, as well as other stakeholders such as business representatives and NGOs, will be surveyed.
- WP4: Integration and Dissemination. An expert advisory board will be set up at the beginning of the project to help steer the research and comment on project outputs. Workshops will be organised to discuss the identified good practices against the background of the needs and possibilities of the policy-making process.

Key Outputs

Principal outputs from EVIA will include:

  • a database of institutions for IA - the European Observatory on Impact Assessment
  • a comparative analysis of approaches to IA
  • a report on good practices for IA
  • two Workshops and their associated reports
  • a handbook of Impact Assessment including an overview of recent developments and the rules and standards for good practice in integrated impact assessment

Papers produced within the project will reflect the needs of different target groups: scientific discussion papers will be written for peer reviewed journals, while more practical policy papers will be produced for officers in charge of IA.