Drawing on Impact Assessment Guidelines that were issued by the Commission in January 2009, the Committee focused on assessing the production and use of impact assessments to find out about how the regime functions and where it needs improving. The report finds that within these areas there are many parts of the Guidelines where further examination would be valuable.
Specifically, the Committee feels that further investigation would be warranted with regard to the conformity of impact assessments to the Guidelines, the adequacy of consultation exercises in the preparation of assessments and whether the recently introduced ‘SME test’ is effectively assessing the impact of legislation on small businesses. In addition, further work is needed to determine the use of post implementation reviews and how they are integrated into the legislative cycle.
The Committee is also concerned that the European Parliament is not fully embracing its commitment under the Inter-Institutional Common Approach to perform impact assessments on substantive amendments to proposed legislation.
Furthermore, evidence collected by the Committee also suggests that impact assessments from the Commission or Member States are rarely discussed in the Council of Ministers. The Committee recommends that that their use should be more vigorously encouraged by the Government.
Commenting on the report, Lord Freeman, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on the Internal Market, said:
"The majority of evidence we received in the course if our inquiry demonstrates the importance of EU impact assessments; given their significance, it is therefore important that work continues in developing the practice to make it as robust and useful as possible to legislators and Member States.
"The introduction of the Impact Assessment Board in 2006 appears to have been encouragingly successful and it is important that the expertise of the Board is preserved in the future."