Impact assessment in the European Commission – a system with multiple objectives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Impact assessment (IA) is an instrument that is gradually making inroads into European Union policy making. Great ambitions are tied to the introduction of a compulsory system of IA as a way to achieve better regulation but also as a tool to improve legitimacy of government and increase unity in European politics. In order to raise the quality of the
assessments, which has been questioned, there is a call for application of more evidencebased methods. As a result, there might be a window of opportunity for greater use of scientific support in impact assessment work.
However, the EC’s IA systemhas several overlapping and partly contradictory objectives – to produce estimates about possible future impacts is only one of them. The IA system should be understood as a political instrument shaped by its multiple objectives and the political context of permanent negotiations in which it is situated. The arguments put forward emanate from a close reading of EC documents concerning IA procedures and the ambitions they display paired with assessment practices as revealed
in interviews with officials in the main EU institutions, trying to perform IAs and to cope with the political balancing act they are embedded in.
(C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1077-1087
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Human Geography

Free keywords

  • Science and policy interface
  • EU
  • Impact assessment


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