Sustainable Development, Evaluation and Policy-Making
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Sustainable Development, Evaluation and Policy-Making

Theory, Practise and Quality Assurance

Edited by Anneke von Raggamby and Frieder Rubik

This pathbreaking book contributes to the discourse of evidence-based policy-making. It does so by combining the two issues of policy evaluation and sustainable development linking both to the policy-cycle.
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Chapter 9: Impact Assessment in the European Union: The Continuation of Politics by Other Means?

Anne C.M. Meuwese


___________________________________________________ INTRODUCTION In March 2008, the British House of Lords published a report with an intriguing title. The report was called ‘The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment’ (House of Lords 2008). Unsurprisingly, this was not an attempt to decide on the constitutional future of the European Union by means of a series of analytical steps such as defining problems and objectives and analysing the impacts of various options. The report in question was a political appraisal of what the Treaty, which entered into force on the 1st of December 2009, might mean for various British and European institutions. Still, although this so-called ‘impact assessment’ has nothing to do with the policy-making tool that the European Commission introduced in 2002, it is significant that the Lords chose to label their report an ‘impact assessment’. First of all, it points to the omnipresence of ‘impact assessment documents’ of late. What is required for something to qualify as a real ‘impact assessment’? Furthermore, can a loosening or a tightening of the standards be observed in that respect? After all, anyone can assess the impacts of everything on anything. There is also the issue of the relationship between impact assessment and evaluation. Generally, evaluation is more concerned with the extent to which a measure has reached (ex-post) or is likely to reach (ex ante) its goals. Regulatory impact assessments (RIAs) or impact assessments (IAs; for the distinction between the two terms see below) are always applied ‘ex ante’, meaning before the measure is enacted...

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