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European Network for Better Regulation

Final Report Summary - ENBR (European Network for Better Regulation)

ENBR was a three-year Coordination Action involving 18 partners coordinated by the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS). ENBR aimed at improving and disseminating the current knowledge of regulatory processes as well as the degree and mode of implementation of impact assessment procedures in EU Member States. ENBR started on 1 January 2006 and was officially launched in Brussels on 23 January. The main activities carried out by ENBR included:
- The creation of an unprecedented Database on impact assessment development in European Member States (DIADEM), which will collect information and quantitative data on all impact assessment performed at national level in the EU-25 in the last five years, and will facilitate research and benchmarking by scholars, policymakers, practitioners and stakeholders.
- The setting up of interdisciplinary expert groups that will create and disseminate knowledge on specific aspects of impact assessment and better regulation, including IA methodology, quality indicators, the relevant of regulatory context, the importance of IA for the regulatory process and specific problems faced by CEE countries.
- The organisation of thematic workshops in Bratislava, Exeter, Lisbon, Rotterdam and Tallinn, in which industry stakeholders and policy-makers will have the opportunity to learn about recent developments in impact assessment and share their expertise with that of ENBR partners.
- The publication of the DIADEM database, of research papers, workshop proceedings and other news on impact assessment on the ENBR website, http;// currently being launched.
- The organisation of a final conference in Brussels, in which the activities performed by ENBR will be presented with a view to formulating policy recommendations and offering insights on possible ways to promote the use (and usefulness) of impact assessment in public administrations at EU and Member State level.

Three years of research by local partners in the surveyed countries have allowed for an in-depth understanding of different national approaches to better regulation and impact assessment in particular. Interesting examples of assessments not fully in compliance with the above definition were identified and the consortium decided to include them in the DIADEM database to give a more realistic picture of current practice at the national level. These cases are explicitly differentiated in the database, to prevent confusion. While all the countries covered by DIADEM have adopted a better regulation strategy, a closer look at the actual production of impact assessments highlights the existence of a clear gap between strong implementers (including newcomers) and other Member States. This gap can be explained by the fact that the 29 countries surveyed have adopted different approaches to the ex-ante appraisal of legislation. While some have chosen to use a fully-fledged impact assessment system, others instead have concentrated on specific issues such as the weight of administrative burdens.

The ENBR consortium held its final conference on 11 December 2008 at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels to present the final version of the DIADEM database (DIADEM 2.0) as well as the other deliverables of the project. The conference was open to the public and attracted a wide audience of academics, practitioners, and policy-makers from the national and European levels. It hosted a session on the role of socio-economic science and policy-makers and two round tables on the past achievements and future developments of better regulation in the EU-27 and on regulatory reform from a global perspective.

The ENBR Coordination Action was not conceived to be carried out in isolation. To the contrary, for the whole duration of the project the ENBR consortium has sought constant cooperation with existing groups of experts and ongoing EU-funded projects in the same field. An example is the regular exchange of information with EVIA, a two-year Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) launched in February 2006. Researchers from both projects have been in close contact especially as concerns the screening of national approaches to impact assessment. This cooperation was aimed at exploiting all possible synergies, avoiding duplication of efforts and ensuring the consistency of findings to effectively contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the state of the art of impact assessment in Europe. Cooperation was also sought and achieved with other projects and networks of experts on impact assessment. For example, the workshop on regulatory quality and the ENBR final conference hosted contributions from researchers of the Sixth Framework (FP6) funded project MATISSE, representatives of the OECD, the World Bank and of the Mexican Government. Finally, the results of the project were presented and referred to by ENBR partners in several international and national events on better regulation and impact assessment.

The activities performed by the ENBR Coordination Action will allow a further step forward in the crafting of efficient and effective impact assessment procedures at member state level, thus facilitating the achievement of the Lisbon goals and, more generally, higher levels of competitiveness for each individual member state.