What is RIA?

As stated in SIGMA Paper, Impact Assessment is an information-based analytical approach to assess probable costs, consequences, and side effects of planned policy instruments (laws, regulations, etc.). It can also be used to evaluate the real costs and consequences of policy instruments after they have been implemented. In either case, the results are used to improve the quality of policy decisions and policy instruments, such as laws, regulations, investment programmes and public investments. Basically, it is a means to have informed government choices: choices about policy instruments, about the design of a specific instrument, or about the need to change or discontinue an existing instrument.

The objective of impact assessment is both to improve the policy instruments themselves, and to reduce the number of legal instruments by avoiding unnecessary legislation. Good impact assessment should help to produce fewer, clearer and more acceptable pieces of legislation.

In the last years, the candidate countries achieved a substantial approximation of their legislation to EU standards. Thus the greatest challenge ahead is to effectively implement the principles of regulation such as transparency, accountability, targeting, consistency, proportionality and consultation.

Improving the way in which candidate countries’ governments use their regulatory powers is in many respects a long-term and far-reaching task involving ministers, parliaments, administrators, courts, and citizens. But in fact, substantial improvement in the quality of the regulatory process can be achieved quickly and at low cost. Such short-term reforms attempt to focus government attention on three important questions: what to regulate, when to regulate, and how to regulate.

The problems to which RIA is associated differ widely across countries. To that end, one of the best ways of doing impact assessment by the candidate countries and fulfilling the requirements for law harmonization and simplification is to learn from the experience already achieved in this area. This contributes to defining the best approach for the successful implementation of the EU internal market acquis.

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