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Year 2017 x
Article

The Politicization of ex post Policy Evaluation in the EU

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1-2 2017
Keywords policy evaluation, Better Regulation, participation, REFIT, politicization
Authors Stijn Smismans
AbstractAuthor's information

    The European Commission’s 2015 Better Regulation package has placed ex post evaluation at the centre of European governance. This strengthens a trend of gradual politicization of evaluation in European policymaking. This article analyses how the European Commission’s approach to ex post policy evaluation has changed over the last decade. It shows how evaluation has developed from a rather technical process to a more politicized process, which is clearly linked to political priority setting, subject to centralized control, and involving a wider set of actors. At the same time, the Commission avoids a profound debate on the merits and objectives of the process of evaluation itself. The article concludes on the merits and risks of evaluation at times of rising populism.


Stijn Smismans
Stijn Smismans is a professor of law at the School of Law and Politics and director of the Centre for European Law and Governance at Cardiff University.
Editorial

The European Union’s New “Better Regulation” Agenda: Between Procedures and Politics

Introduction to the Special Issue

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1-2 2017
Authors Mariolina Eliantonio and Aneta Spendzharova
Author's information

Mariolina Eliantonio
Mariolina Eliantonio is Associate Professor of European Administrative Law at Maastricht University.

Aneta Spendzharova
Aneta Spendzharova is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Maastricht University.
Article

Why Better Regulation Demands Better Scrutiny of Results

The European Parliament’s Use of Performance Audits by the European Court of Auditors in ex post Impact Assessment

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1-2 2017
Keywords EU budget, European Parliamentary Research Service, policy evaluation, scrutiny, oversight
Authors Paul Stephenson
AbstractAuthor's information

    Ex post impact assessment (traditionally considered part of policy evaluation) received less attention in the preceding ‘Better Regulation’ package (2011) than ex ante impact assessment. Yet, the insights generated through ex post impact assessment provide crucial input for streamlining legislation. In recognition of its contribution, the current agenda (2015) extends the reach to policy evaluation, and from financial instruments to regulatory instruments. In light of existing experience with impact assessments in Commission Directorates-General (DGs), the European Union (EU) institutions have been increasingly aware of the need to develop staff expertise in ex post (policy) evaluation, which has in the past been largely outsourced to external parties. Making sense of collected input and incorporating it within impact assessment is time consuming. Indeed, taking up the findings for practical use is a challenge for political decision makers but essential for the purposes of accountability, scrutiny and institutional learning. The challenge is more so, given the wealth of information being generated by multiple parties and the increasing technical and financial complexity of certain policy areas. The role of the Commission as an advocate of ‘Better Regulation’ has been studied extensively. However, we know relatively little about the role of the European Parliament (EP) in ex post evaluation. This article contributes to the literature on ‘Better Regulation in the EU’ by shedding light on the EP activities in the realm of scrutiny and evaluation. In particular, it looks at the Parliament’s use of special reports produced by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) through its performance audit work and how it takes on board the findings and recommendations in its scrutiny of budgetary spending. Moreover, it examines the emerging role of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) in monitoring the outputs of the ECA and other bodies engaged in audit and evaluation, and thereby, the way in which the EPRS is helping increase the Parliament’s capacity for scrutiny and oversight.


Paul Stephenson
Maastricht University.
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