The role of parliaments in regulatory policy

AuthorAnglmayer, Irmgard
EPRS | European Parli amentary Re search Servic e
1. The role of parliaments in regulatory policy
1.1. Better Regulatio n in Eur ope : only a government matter?
Regu latory po licy covers th e methods and processes for preparing, implementing and rev iewing
laws and r egulatio ns. It aims to ensure that regulation achieves its intended p olicy object ives at
minimum cost. R egula tory policy or 'Better Regulation' or 'Better Law-Makin g', a s it is co mmonly
referred t o at the EU level and in s ome EU Member States sets out a number o f key principles, in
particular that law and p olicy-ma king are:
open and transparent;
backed by th e comprehens ive involvement of stakeholders;
and informed by a so und evidence base. 4
The sound evidence bas e is the most importa nt fact or in the context of this study, and in particular
the set of tools that helps inform t he policy -making pr ocess wit h evidence and analysis. Thre e tools
main ly render Better Regu lation 'the means to deliver evidence-based policy-makin g',5 na mely :
ex-ante impact assessment (also referred to as RIA in s ome co untries );
ex-post evaluation;
and involvement of the public and stakeholders through consultation.
The focus of this study lies clearly on impact assessment and evaluation; stakeholder involvement is
touched upon only m arg inally.
1.1.1. Shaping Better Regulation in Europe: the European Commission
The European Commission's Better Regulation policy has emerged since the early 2000s a nd
gra dually ev olved int o its curr ent format. It was part icularly high on the agenda in the Juncker
Comm ission (2014-2019), which is symbolised by the fact that the firs t Vice-President wh o even
bore Better Regulation in his job title was in charge of driving the Better Regulation re form
agenda.6 Today, the EU's Better Reg ulation framework is sa id to r ank among the best perfo rm ing in
Europe,7 and it continues to be a central feature of EU policy-making under the n ew Commission
President Urs ula von der Leyen.8
Further to applying Better Regula tion principle s and proce sses in its o wn law- and po licy-ma king,
the C ommis sion enco ur ages also the other EU inst itutions and t he EU Member States to do likewise.9
Alrea dy in 2005, the Com missio n recommended tha t Member States establish their own na t ional
Better Regulation strategies and, in particular, that they roll ou t impa ct as sessm ent t ha t wo uld in
scope resem ble the European Commission's.10 In a similar ve in, academic research argues that, for
Better Regulation t o be successful in the EU's multi-level governance sy stem, the EU's Be tter
4 European Commission, Better regulation guidelines, update 2017, SWD (2017) 350, p. 4.
5 Ben Smulders and Jean-Eri c Paque t, 'The European Commission and it s Bette r Regul ation Agenda', in Sacha Garben and
Inge Govaere (eds.), The EU Better Regulation Agenda: A critical a ssessment, Hart 2018, p. 102.
6 First Vice-Pr esident Frans Ti mmer mans was in charge of 'Better Regulation, inter-institutional relati ons, the rule of law
and the Charter of Fundament al Rights'.
7 OECD, Regulatory policy outlook 2018.
8 Europe an Commi ssion, Commission work programme 2020: A Union that strives for more, COM(2020) 37, p. 9.
9 Europe an Commi ssion, Better regulation for better results - An EU agenda, 2015, COM(2015) 215, p. 4 .
10 European Commission, Be tter Regulati on for Growth and Jobs in t he European Union, 2005, COM(2005) 97, p. 8.

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