JRC Study: Is the Commission’s Better Regulation Agenda making EU regulation better?

The great majority of the authors who have analysed the Commission’s Better Regulation Agenda welcome the ambition of the reforms and see them as further strengthening the EU’s regulatory system.


The Better Regulation Agenda is regarded by authors as a step forward for the EU in closing the policy cycle and becoming a leading example of good regulatory governance worldwide.


A commitment to evidence-informed policy making and evaluation, an increased responsiveness to stakeholders, a greater role of scrutiny, transparency and consideration for subsidiarity are highlighted as positive outcomes of the Commission’s Better Regulation Agenda.


Many authors recognize that the Better Regulation Agenda attempts to address the most relevant criticism and the difficulties encountered in the past.


These are some of the main findings of a fresh JRC analysis on the papers published in peer-reviewed journals and literature on the Commission’s Better Regulation Agenda.

The Better Regulation Agenda responds to past criticism


Responding to the concerns of citizens and businesses about lack of transparency in EU decision-making, the European Commission launched the Better Regulation Agenda in 2015.


It is a comprehensive set of reforms covering the entire policy cycle.


The reforms aim to ensure that policy-making is priority-driven, evidence-informed, transparent and effective.


The Agenda intends to boost openness and transparency in the EU decision-making process, improve the quality of new laws and promote consistent review of existing EU laws so that they achieve their objectives in the most effective and efficient way.


Commitment to evidence-informed policy-making is a step forward


The authors welcome the European Commission’s commitment to evidence-informed policy-making in all policy making activities.


The attempt to provide practical and coherent guidance via the Better Regulation guidelines and toolbox is also seen as a positive sign, as well as the consideration of both qualitative and quantitative approaches.


Some authors also note, however, that the rich toolbox still allows for a variety of practices and that a consolidated methodological framework and appropriate standards to select and weigh evidence could be beneficial.


The Better Regulation Agenda has led to stronger stakeholder involvement


The literature recognizes that the Better Regulation Agenda strengthens stakeholder involvement, commitments and their implementation.


Consultation has been extended to more types of EU legislation and to every stage of the policy cycle.


This process provides the opportunity for new information to be gathered by the EC, contributing to better insights into stakeholders’ positions.


As a potential point for improvement, some authors observe that current procedures generate a high workload on stakeholders and the EC itself, and that participation in consultations is often confined to the actors already having access to the political process.


More transparency in EU policy making


The literature recognises that the Better Regulation Agenda strives to open up EU policy-making for public participation, and thus make the EU more transparent and accountable.


However, it is also highlighted that further improvement is needed. For example, some authors claim that it is not easy to obtain a complete picture of all ongoing and completed EU evaluations, and that the access to original studies is sometimes difficult.


Some authors propose that EU institutions and EU Member States commit to providing information throughout the whole policy cycle.


Some reviews underline the importance of more widely communicating actions taken within the Better Regulation framework, and of developing a renewed narrative which highlights the benefits of EU regulation.


They also acknowledge that success of the Better Regulation depends, ultimately, on effective and constructive co-operation from all of the actors participating in and benefitting from policy-making.


JRC study support of Commission’s stocktaking on Better Regulation approach


The JRC study was carried out in support of the Stocktaking of the Commission’s ‘Better Regulation’ Approach. It is used in Staff Working Document SWD (2019) 156, and in Communication COM (2019) 178.


As the science and knowledge service of the Commission, JRC supports the Better Regulation approach by providing independent evidence throughout the policy cycle.

Conference “Better regulation: taking stock and sustaining our commitment”


On 29 April 2019, the European Commission is holding a conference in Brussels to discuss the results of the better regulation stocktaking exercise, exchange views on possible ways forward and further build the community of better regulation practitioners.


Source: European Commission



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