Bette r Regulation prac tices in natio nal parliaments
5. Conclusions and outlook
Better Regulation is commonly rega rded a gov er nm ent matter. However, as central actors in the
law-making process, parliaments are also increa singly in volved. W hile in terna tional indices that
compare an d rank govern ments' performance in regulatory policy exis t, little is currently k nown
about parliaments' role therein, and even less from a comparative perspective.
This study aims at filling this gap by shedding some light on parliamentary experiences in ex-ante
impact assessment and ex-post evaluation. Its core is a survey -ba sed analy sis of individual
parliaments' engagement at both ends of the policy cycle, exploring the what, the how and the who
of regulato ry policy action. As expected, there is great variation in type a nd level of engagement,
spanning from passive scrutiny of government action to active impact assessment and evaluation
work . The cou ntr y sectio ns illust rate that there is no standard model for parliamentary involvement,
but ins tead, pa rliament s design t heir reg ulator y policy a ctivities a ccording to what wor ks best in
their specific cont ext. Parliaments therefore complement rather than substituting g ove rnment
action. One thing all parliaments have in common is th at their level of resources (in every re s pect )
cannot com pare with gover nments. Therefore, par liamentary process es and ou tputs re lat ing to
impact assessment and evaluation may b e quite d istinctive from governmental Better Regulation
The added value of this study is t he broad sa mple of parliaments it cov ers: 38. Thanks to the ECPRD
network and not least to the readiness of so many national parliaments to share their insights and
experience, this publication is able to provide an overview of the state of play of n atio nal
parliaments' Better Regulation practices. It cov ers all parliaments of the EU-27, and a further
11 parliaments of Council of Europe countries that chose to participat e in the E PRS su rvey .
According to survey data, roughly half of the surveyed parliaments currently do not take any active
role in impact assessment or evaluation work (beyond t raditiona l scrut iny me chanisms). Fo r the
other half, the rationale for their B etter Regulat ion activ ities is pr imarily related to s crut iny and
accou ntability , and is thus a variant of parliaments' power to exercise over sight over the executive.
Beyond that, a few parliaments also use Better R egulation tools as part of t heir legislat ive funct ion.
Among those parliaments that ass ume an active role in impact a ssessment and/or e valua tion, the
spectrum of activities could not be broader: there are those with a high degree of institutionalisation
and those that have just begun. There are those with a systematic approach, a long heritage,
extensive rights of access to information, mandatory government follow-up and even ev aluation
dut ies which are anchored in the national constitution. At the ot her end of the s pectrum, th ere are
parliaments th at have recently amended their rules of procedure to allow for policy eva luat ion and
those that have run a fir st pilo t. A nd na turally, the majority of parliaments are in between.
The findings in figur es demonstrate that: 17 national parliaments within the EU-27 eng age, to a
greater or lesser extent, in specific ex-ante impact a ssessment and/or ex-post ev aluation wo rk, in
addit ion t o the par liaments of four Council of Europe countries. Ten EU-27 parliament s cover both
activ ities: Aus tria, B ulgaria, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden; as does
the Canadian Parliame nt. Th is st udy dep icts and reflects u pon the variety of th eir approach es, tools
In add ition, this study has an idealist ic purpos e: it aims a t br inging p arlia ment s together, by giving
impet us to the forming of so met hing like a commun ity of pract ice. Mutual learning through
exchange of bes t pract ices may contribute to the fos ter ing of a Bet ter Regulation culture among
parliaments, so that they make fuller us e of t he potential Better Regulation offers. EPRS is certa inly
inter est ed in fo rming part o f such comm unity o f pract ice.