Bette r Regulation prac tices in natio nal parliaments
Ex-ante impact a ssess ment and ex-post evaluation are regulatory policy tools that help inform the
policy -makin g proces s with eviden ce-based analysis. Geared towards ratio nalising policy -makin g,
these to ols aim at raising the q uality of po licies and legis lation. The use of i mpact a ssessment and
evalu ation is wide-spread ac ross Europe, a s virtually a ll countr ies ha ve developed fr ameworks for
regulato ry governance. This development is so mewha t du e to the Europ ean Unio n (EU) and the
Org anisat ion for Econ omic Co-operation and Development (OECD), two actors that have st rong ly
inspir ed and shaped regulatory policy reform across Europe. However, national Better Regulation
agendas are la rgely government-driv en, often le aving parliam ents ma rginalis ed in t he pr oce ss.
Notwithstanding, both the EU and the OECD ack nowle dge t hat Better Regulation is a shared
respons ibility between the executive and the legislative branch. The aim o f this st udy is to s h ed l ight
on the parliament ary dimension of Better Regulation, by captur ing the practices of 38 national
The first chapt er contextualises the rol e of parliaments in Better Regulation and reflects on concrete
areas for parliaments to join in the process. There is considera ble potential for parliamentary
involvement a t bo th en ds o f t he po licy cycle – impact assessment and evaluation. While su ch
engagement can take multiple forms (spanning from passive scrutiny to an active use of t he tools),
it relates to t wo par liame ntary core functio ns: law-m akin g and ove rs ight.
The regula tor y policy potential of parliaments is exemplified by the case of the Eu ropean Parliament
(EP), where the use of impact assessment and evaluation has, a mere ten years after the ir instig ation,
encou ntered a high degree o f inst itution alisation. The sy stematic use of these reg ulatory policy
tools strengthens EP committees' positio n in law-mak ing, and in holding the executive to account.
Over all, it facilita tes effective scrut iny of E uro pean Com mission act ion and leads to better inf ormed
policy -makin g.
Based o n survey data from 37 national parliaments across Europe plus the Canadian Parliament,
chapters 2 an d 3 analys e the level, types, processes, particularities as well a s, to th e extent possible,
the im pact of individu al parliam ents' en gagement in impact ass essment and ev aluation of those
parliaments tha t choose to get involved. Many do not (or not yet) take an active role: t he s urv ey
revealed that roughly half of the sur veyed parliaments do not engage beyond class ical
parliamentary scr uti ny me chani sms within the general framework of parliamentary control. Non-
engagement can have mu ltiple reasons; some survey respo ndents pointed explicit ly at the distinct
role s and/or the strict separation of power of the executive and the legislative, while others said they
simp ly do not have t he necessar y capacities .
Among the EU-27, seven national parliaments (Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Poland
and Sweden) enga ge systematically in th eir o wn ex-ant e impact assessment w ork , albeit in
fundament ally different ways. The broadest spectrum of impact assessment activities appears to be
assumed by the Polish Parliament. An additional seven parliaments carry out smaller-sc al e im pact
assessment work (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal and Spain). Moreover, the
Latvian Saeima avails of impact assessment capacities, but has not yet tested them. Out of the
11 survey ed parliaments ou tside the EU, only Canada engages actively, by informing the law-
mak ing pr ocess with b udge tary impac t as ses sment s.
With regard to ex-post eval uation, s ix EU-27 parliament s have developed structures for substantial
involvement (Belgium, Fran ce, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden). Moreov er, the research
services of the Bulgarian and Latvian parliaments carry out ad hoc evaluations up on request, albeit
in low numbers. Four further EU-27 parliaments engage in ev aluation a ctivities at a smaller scale,
mainly b y scrutin ising gov ernm ent evaluat ions in-depth or by perfor ming ex-post budgetary
scru tiny (Aus tria, Ireland, Portugal and Spain).