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C 304/80 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 2. 10.

98

(98/C 304/118) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0338/98
by Graham Mather (PPE) to the Commission
(17 February 1998)

Subject: Business impact assessment

On 24 April 1997, the European Parliament passed a report on strengthening the business impact assessment
system (A4-0413/96). During the April II part-session (1997), Commissioner Papoutsis commented: ‘I agree
with the general idea of the report and with the European Parliament’s resolution ... I would like to assure you of
my determination to support a strengthening of the business impact assessment system.’ (PE 222.596).

In May 1997, OECD ministers endorsed the recommendations in the OECD Report on Regulatory Reform.
These included that governments integrate Regulatory Impace Assessment (RIA) into the development, review
and reform of regulations. It also identified ten elements of ‘best practice’ in this area: maximize political
commitment to RIA; allocate responsibilities for IRA programme elements carefully; train regulators; use a
consistent but flexible analytical method; develop and implement data collection strategies; target RIA efforts;
integrate RIA into the policy-making process, starting as early as possible; communicate the results; involve the
public extensively; apply RIA to existing and new regulation.

Has the Commission taken account of the OECD best practice recommendations in its own on-going review; and
what is the Commission’s assessment of its own performance in each of the ten areas identified?

(98/C 304/119) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0339/98
by Graham Mather (PPE) to the Commission
(17 February 1998)

Subject: Business impact assessment

On 24 April 1997, the European Parliament passed a report on strengthening the business impact assessment
system (A4-0413/96). During the April II part-session (1997), Commissioner Papoutsis commented: ‘I agree
with the general idea of the report and with the European Parliament’s resolution ... I would like to assure you of
my determination to support a strengthening of the business impact assessment system.’ (PE 222.596).

One problem that has frequently been cited in relation to implementing best practice of business impact
assessment in the Member States is that very little is written on this subject, and particularly about the
experiences of best practice countries, in many EU languages.

Has the Commission investigated the extent to which the language barrier is a hindrance to extending best
practice in this area; and does the Commission feel that action is necessary in this area?

Joint answer to Written Questions
E-0335/98, E-0336/98, E-0337/98, E-0338/98 and E-0339/98
given by Mr Papoutsis on behalf of the Commission
(21 April 1998)

The Commission is committed to improving and strengthening its business impact assessment system (BIAS) as
part of its consideration of legislative proposals. These internal Commission working procedures along with
comprehensive consultation with outside interests are part of the open and transparent Commission policy as
established by the guidelines on legislative policy announced by the Commission in January 1996.

While it does not envisage producing a report for consideration by the Council and the Parliament, the
Commission has recently published a report on the history and the development of the business impact
assessment system along with a comprehensive collection of business impact assessments completed over the
last few years. A copy of this report is being sent direct to the Honourable Member and to the Parliament’s
secretariat. The Commission considers that an appropriate amount of analysis needs to be undertaken concerning
the regulatory impact of legislative proposals. If there is likely to be a significant impact on business then this
2. 10. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 304/81

regulatory impact analysis can include cost/benefit or cost/effectiveness analyses, depending on the complexity
of the proposal. This does not, in the Commission’s view, require the business impact assessment system to be
given any legal framework in Community legislation.

A business impact assessment appears as part of the documentation accompanying every legislative proposal
which is likely to have a significant impact on business. This is published as part of the document (Com) which is
submitted to the Council, the Parliament and the Economic and social committee. These documents are
distributed by the Office of official publications. They are therefore available to outside interests, and scrutiny of
their content is welcome. In its forthcoming review of its internal working procedures the Commission will
consider whether the business impact assessments should be published in the Official journal. Business impact
assessments would then be available in all official languages.

The Commission has indeed taken account of the Organisation for economic co-operation and development
(OECD) report on regulatory reform, having taken part in the discussions with Member States at the OECD
leading up to this report. Both this forum and the co-ordinating role that the Commission plays with the Member
States on improving and simplifying the business environment includes the exchange of information about
regulatory impact analysis. It is important that the impact on business of legislative and administrative proposals
is considered both Community wide, and also at Member State and local authority levels.

The Commission considers that it has improved its performance in the majority of the ten elements of best
practice in the OECD report, particularly in respect of early and more extensive consultation procedures,
improved and comprehensive regulatory impact analysis, and better openness and transparency in terms of
communicating the results and involving outside interests. There is however room for further improvement.

Both the OECD and the Commission have some information about the best practice in the Member States on
their regulatory impact assessment systems. The Commission will continue its efforts co-ordinating with the
Member States to exchange experience of best practice on business impact assessment systems. Commission
Recommendation 97/344/EC of 22 April 1997 on improving and simplifying the business environment for
business start-ups (1) addressed to Member States and published in all languages made a specific reference in
Article 3 for Member States to consider introducing a systematic evaluation procedure to assess the impact on
business of regulatory proposals. Annex II gives information about the business impact assessment systems
established in Member States.

Notwithstanding the improvements made, the Commission remains determined to continue to make further
improvements to the business impact assessment system. The Parliament’s April 1997 report, the continuing
contacts with Member States and the European business organisations provide ideas and information for the
Commission’s internal working procedures. Following these discussions the Commission will consider issuing
new and more detailed internal guidelines about how to complete a business impact assessment, and how to
undertake the necessary consultation with all the interested parties.

(1) OJ L 145, 5.6.1997.

(98/C 304/120) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0340/98
by Luis Campoy Zueco (PPE) to the Commission
(17 February 1998)

Subject: Objective 2

Could the Commission indicate what criteria will apply to the new Objective 2 and which Spanish regions it will
cover?

Answer given by Mrs Wulf-Mathies on behalf of the Commission
(25 March 1998)

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to Written Question P-0329/98 by
Mrs Todini (1).

(1) OJ C 223, 17.7.1998, p. 167.