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Smismans, Stijn
Publisher: Lexxicon
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: JN
The EU’s new approach to policy evaluation is characterised by a focus on closing the policy\ud cycle (linking ex ante and ex post appraisal) and by applying evaluation to all types of\ud policy intervention, whether expenditure or regulatory policy. This article analyses the main\ud features and challenges of this new approach. It first studies the conceptual and interdisciplinary\ud challenge of such an encompassing approach to evaluation. It then assesses the new\ud approach in the light of four key objectives of ex ante and ex post appraisal; ensuring evidence\ud and learning; accountability, transparency and participation; policy coherence; and\ud reducing the regulatory burden.
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    • 5 Melvin M. Mark, Leslie J. Cooksy and William M.K. Trochim, “Evaluation Policy: an introduction and overview”, 123 New Directions in Evaluation (2009), pp. 3 et sqq.. For a similar critique of the literature on ex ante appraisal missing out on the “policy and politics” of appraisal, see John Turnpenny, Claudio M. Radaelli, Andrew Jordan and Klaus Jacob, “The policy and politics of policy appraisal: emerging trends and new direction”, 16 Journal of European Public Policy (2009), pp. 640 et sqq.
    • 6 Commission Communication “Strengthening the foundations of Smart Regulation - improving evaluation”, COM(2013) 686 final, at p. 7.
    • 7 With the exception of the specific guidelines for ex ante evaluation on expenditure programmes. Commission, “Ex Ante Evaluation. A practical guide for preparing proposals for expenditure programmes”, DG Budget, 10 December 2001.
    • 8 See also Emanuela Bozzini and Jo Hunt in this Special Issue.
    • 9 Highlighted above, supra note 3.
    • 10 Melvin M. Mark, Leslie J. Cooksy and William M.K. Trochim, “Evaluation Policy: an introduction and overview”, 123 New Directions in Evaluation (2009), pp. 3 et sqq.
    • 11 Although the topic is only slowly finding its way to the mainstream of public policy. As Turpnenny et al. note, it is telling that no mainstream public policy textbook covers policy appraisal in much detail. John Turnpenny, Claudio M. Radaelli, Andrew Jordan and Klaus Jacob, “The policy and politics of policy appraisal: emerging trends and new direction”, 16 Journal of European Public Policy (2009), pp. 640 et sqq., at p. 641.
    • 12 Camille Adelle, Andrew Jordan and John Turnpenny, “Proceeding in parallel or drifting apart? A systematic review of policy appraisal research and practices”, 30 Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy (2012), pp. 401 et sqq.
    • 13 The four main usages are political, instrumental, communicative and perfunctory. Claire Dunlop, Martino Maggetti, Claudio Radaelli and Duncan Russel, “The Many Uses of Regulatory Impact Assessment: A Meta-Analysis of EU and UK Cases”, 6 Regulation and Governance (2012), pp. 23 et sqq.
    • 14 Steven Højlund, “Evaluation use in evaluation systems - the case of the European Commission”, 20 Evaluation (2014), pp. 428 et sqq.
    • 15 Lorna Schrefler, “Reflections on the different roles of expertise in regulatory policy making”, in Monika Ambrus, Karin Arts, Ellen Hey, Helena Raulus (eds), The Role of 'Experts' in International and European Decision-Making ProcessesAdvisors, Decision Makers or Irrelevant Actors?, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 63 et sqq..
    • 16 Michael Power ,The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).
    • 17 Jan Klabbers, “The virtues of expertise”, in Monika Ambrus, Karin Arts, Ellen Hey, Helena Raulus (eds), The Role of 'Experts' in International and European Decision-Making Processes. Advisors, Decision Makers or Irrelevant Actors, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 82 et sqq., at p. 87.
    • 18 Steven Højlund in this Special Issue, and Mendez and Bachtler, “Administrative reform”, supra note 3.
    • 19 Commission, “Public Consultation on Commission Guidelines for Evaluation”, November 2013, available on the Internet at , (last accessed on 20 May 2014), at p. 13.
    • 20 Gerda Falkner, Oliver Treib, Miriam Hartlapp and Simone Leiber, Complying with Europe. EU harmonisation and soft law in the Member States, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Thomas König and Brooke Luetgert, “Troubles with Transposition? Explaining Trends in Member-State Notification and Delayed Transposition of EU Directives”, 39 British Journal of Political Science (2009), pp. 163 et sqq.; Ellen Mastenbroek and Michael Kaeding, “Europeanization Beyond the Goodness of Fit: Domestic Politics in the Forefront”, Comparative European Politics (2006), pp. 331 et sqq.; and Esther Versluis “Even Rules, Uneven Practices: Opening the 'Black Box' of EU law in action”, 30 West European Politics (2007),pp. 50 et sqq..
    • 21 Keith Featherstone and Claudio Radaelli (eds.), The Politics of Europeanisation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); and Paolo Graziano and Maarten Vink, Europeanization: new research agendas (Palgrave, 2008)
    • 22 Højlund in this Special Issue.
    • 23 Commission Communication “Responding to Strategic Needs: Reinforcing the use of evaluation”, SEC (2007) 2013.
    • 24 Commission Communication “Smart Regulation in the European Union”, COM(2010) 543 final.
    • 25 Commission Communication “Strengthening the foundations of Smart Regulation - improving evaluation”, supra note 6.
    • 26 Commission, “Public Consultation on Commission Guidelines for Evaluation”, supra note 19.
    • 27 Commission, “2014 Revision of the European Commission Impact Assessment Guidelines. Public Consultation document”, 1 July 2014 , available at (last accessed on 30 September 2014).
    • 28 Although the guidelines do not provide for any systematic screening of DGs on whether they respect these guidelines, in a way that exists through the Impact Assessment Board.
    • 29 Commission, “Evaluating EU Activities. Practical Guide for the Commission Services”, DG Budget, July 2004.
    • 30 E.g. Commission Communication “Focus on results: strengthening evaluation of Commission activities”, SEC(2000)1051.
    • 31 Commission Communication “EU Regulatory Fitness”, COM (2012) 746 final.
    • 32 Commission Communication “Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT): Results and Next Steps”, COM(2013) 685 final, at p. 2.
    • 36 European Commission, “Evaluating EU Activities”, at p. 30.
    • 37 Commission Communication “Strengthening the foundations of Smart Regulation - improving evaluation”, supra note 6, at p. 6.
    • 38 Commission, “Evaluation”, 12 November 2014, available on the Internet at (last accessed on 20 May 2014).
    • 39 Commission, “Search evaluation results”, 24 July 2014, available on the Internet at http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/evaluation/ search/search.do (last accessed on 21 January 2015).
    • 40 How representative the database is for the entirety of evaluations is difficult to assess. For sure, the database seems to focus on outsourced evaluations, leaving roughly 20% of internal evaluations uncovered.
    • 41 Commission Communication “Impact Assessment”, COM(2002)276. Not all IIAs include such financial ex ante evaluation as the initiative may not engage the Union budget. Vice versa, ex ante financial evaluation continues to exist as a separate process for expenditure actions for which no IIA is required. However, ex ante evaluation is now predominantly conducted in the context of impact assessments. See Commission, “Public Consultation on Commission Guidelines for Evaluation”, supra note 19, at p. 16.
    • 42 Commission, “Public Consultation on Commission Guidelines for Evaluation”, supra note 19, at p. 7.
    • 43 European Impact Assessment Board, “Annual Report for 2013”, available on the Internet at (last accessed on 21 January 2015 at p. 7.
    • 44 European Impact Assessment Board, “Annual Report for 2012”, available on the Internet at (last accessed on 21 January 2015), at p. 27.
    • 45 Commission, “2014 Revision of the European Commission Impact Assessment Guidelines”, supra note 27, at p. 29.
    • 46 Ibid., at p. 10.
    • 47 Fitness checks constitute just one of the tools of the wider REFIT programme.
    • 48 Commission, “Public Consultation on Commission Guidelines for Evaluation”, supra note 19, at p. 16.
    • 49 Commission Communication “Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT): Results and Next Steps”, COM(2013) 685 final, at p. 7.
    • 50 Commission Communication “Commission Work Programme 2015. A new start”, COM(2014) 910 final, at Annex 3.
    • 51 For a detailed assessment of the new CCA tool, based on analysis of the two pilot exercises, see Lorna Schrefler, Giacomo Luchetta and Felice Simonelli in this Special Issue.
    • 52 Commission Communication “Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): State of Play and Outlook”, COM(2014) 368 final, at p. 15.
    • 57 Claudio M. Radaelli and Claire A. Dunlop, “Learning in the European Union: theoretical lenses and meta-theory”, 20 Journal of European Public Policy, pp. 923 et sqq,, at p. 923.
    • 58 Claire A. Dunlop and Claudio M .Radaelli, “Systematising Policy Learning: From Monolith to Dimensions”, 61 Political Studies (2013), pp. 599 et sqq,, at p. 599.
    • 59 The academic literature clearly relies on a broader conceptualization of policy learning than the official documents, and (ex ante) evidence providing to policy makers is considered part of it.
    • 60 Focusing on the type of evidence available and the use of such evidence in policy-making may also be a less tricky research strategy than trying to identify these processes as learning processes. Although Dunlop and Radaelli suggest several avenues in policy learning research (based on an analysis of the existing literature), they also seem to indicate that research framed in terms of knowledge utilisation may be the most promising one. Dunlop and Radaelli, “Systematising Policy Learning”, supra note 58, at p. 615.
    • 61 For the relationship between different types of evidence and the different goals of ex post programme evaluation see Marielle Berriet-Solliec, Pierre Labarthe, and Catherine Laurent, “Goals of evaluation and types of evidence”, 20 Evaluation, (2014), pp. 195 et sqq,
    • 62 Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council of 25 October 2012, Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002, at Chapter 7, Article 30.
    • 63 Emanuela Bozzini and Jo Hunt, and Lut Mergaert and Rachel Minto in this Special Issue.
    • 64 Commission, “Impact Assessment Guidelines”, SEC(2009) 92.
    • 65 According to a CEPS database of all IIAs adopted between 2003 and 2009, only about 43% of IIAs included operational objectives. The database created by the Centre for European Policy Studies under the supervision of Andrea Renda is not publicly available, but these data were quoted in Giacomo Luchetta, “Impact assessment and the policy cycle in the EU”, 3 European Journal of Risk Regulation (2012), pp. 561 et sqq,, at p. 568.
    • 66 Luchetta, “IA and the policy cycle”, ibid., at p. 573.
    • 67 Emanuela Bozzini and Jo Hunt, and Lut Mergaert and Rachel Minto in this Special Issue.
    • 71 Ian Sanderson, “Evaluation, policy learning, and evidence-based policy-making”, 80 Public Administration (2002), pp. 1 et sqq., at p,2.
    • 72 Scriven, “Beyond Formative and Summative Evaluation”, supra note 55; Van der Meer and Edelenbos, “Evaluation in multiactor policy process”, supra note 55.
    • 73 See also Steven Højlund in this Special Issue.
    • 74 Commission, “Public Consultation on Commission Guidelines for Evaluation”, supra note 19, see table 1 above.
    • 75 Commission, “Public Consultation on Commission Guidelines for Evaluation”, supra note 19, see table 1 above.
    • 76 Commission, “Public Consultation on Commission Guidelines for Evaluation”, supra note 19.
    • 77 Commission, “Public Consultation on Commission Guidelines for Evaluation”, supra note 19, at p. 25.
    • 78 Claudio M. Radaelli, “Whither better regulation for the Lisbon agenda?”, 14 Journal of European Public Policy (2007), pp. 190 et sqq,, at p. 192.
    • 79 There are sometimes (subtle) differences between the two concepts as they are used in official documents. Yet, due to limits of space I use them here as synonyms, as is the case in many official documents. For a more nuanced view, see Alberto Alemanno, “Unpacking the principle of openness in EU law: transparency, participation and democracy”, 39 European Law Review (2014), pp. 72 et sqq,; and Stijn Smismans, “Regulating interest group participation in the European Union: Changing Paradigms between transparency and representation”, 39 European Law Review (2014), pp. 470 et sqq,
    • 80 Claudio M. Radaelli, “Whither better regulation”, supra note 78.
    • 81 Commission Communication “Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue - General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission”, COM(2002)704.
    • 82 Still many IIAs do not make use of online consultations, while not all online consultations are used in the context of IIAs. See Emanuela Bozzini and Stijn Smismans, “More inclusive European governance through impact assessments?”, Comparative European Politics, advance online publication, 9 March, 2015, doi:10.1057/cep. 2015.11.
    • 83 Ibid.
    • 85 European Parliament, “European Parliament Work in the fields of ex ante impact assessment and European added value. Activity Report for June 2012-June 2014”, European Parliamentary Research Service.
    • 86 Mendez and Bachtler, “Administrative reform”, supra note 3.
    • 87 The concept of policy coherence has particularly been used by both the OECD and the EU in relation to development policy. It is used here in a more general way to refer to the objective of ensuring coherence within a policy intervention or sector (internal coherence), or ensuring coherence of a policy intervention with other policy objectives of the polity (external coherence).
    • 88 Luchetta, “IA and the policy cycle”, supra note 65, at p. 564.
    • 89 Commission, “Impact Assessment: Key documents”, available on the Internet at (last accessed on 21 January 2015).
    • 90 Susana Borrás and Claudio M. Radaelli, “The politics of governance architectures: creation, change and effects of the EU Lisbon Strategy”, 18 Journal of European Public Policy (2011), pp. 463 et sqq,
    • 91 Stijn Smismans and Rachel Minto (forthcoming), “Are integrated impact assessments the way forward for mainstreaming in the EU?”. See also Dunlop and Radaelli in this special issue, who point to the potentially normatively disturbing finding that IAs develop narratives about values and identities, which are thus developed within bureaucratic documents instead of within constitutional discussions.
    • 92 Radaelli, “Whither better regulation”, supra note 78.
    • 93 Commission staff working document “Operational guidance for assessing impacts on sectoral competitiveness within the commission impact assessment system. A "Competitiveness Proofing" Toolkit for use in Impact Assessments”, SEC(2012) 91 final.
    • 94 Commission Communication “Commission Work Programme 2015. A new start”, COM(2014) 910 final, at p. 3.
    • 95 European Voice, “The Companion to the European Commission”, February 2015, at p. 24.
    • 96 Commission Communication “Commission Work Programme 2015”, supra note 94, at Annex 3.
    • 97 Commission, “Public Consultation on Commission Guidelines for Evaluation”, supra note 19, at p. 39.
    • 98 Commission Communication “Smart Regulation in the European Union”, supra note 25, at p. 4.
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