Procedure : 2014/2967(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0312/2014

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Debates :

Votes :

PV 27/11/2014 - 10.6
CRE 27/11/2014 - 10.6
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0311/2014

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the revision of the Commission’s impact assessment guidelines and the role of the SME test (2014/2967(RSP))

Ashley Fox, Sajjad Karim, Anthea McIntyre on behalf of the ECR Group

B8‑0312/2014 European Parliament resolution on the revision of the Commissions impact assessment guidelines and the role of the SME test (2014/2967(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to the recent public consultation on the revision of the Commission’s impact assessment guidelines and the corresponding draft revised impact assessment guidelines,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas impact assessments (IAs), as an early-stage tool when legislation is being developed, play a key role in the Commission’s smart regulation agenda with the purpose of providing transparent, comprehensive and balanced evidence on the nature of the problem to be addressed, the added value of EU action and the cost and benefits of alternative courses of action for all stakeholders;

B.     whereas the existing IA guidelines provide for a central role to be assigned to the Commission’s Secretariat-General and the Impact Assessment Board (IAB) as regards the decision on whether or not an IA is necessary for a specific initiative;

C.     whereas the IAB plays an important role as a central quality control point for IAs;

D.     whereas a proper and independent IA is of particular relevance for small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs), which often encounter greater difficulties than large enterprises in adapting to new legal and administrative requirements and, by reason of their size, are less capable of anticipating regulatory changes at an early stage;

E.     whereas the ‘think small first’ principle is aimed at taking SMEs’ interests into account at the very early stages of policymaking, so as to make legislation more SME‑friendly; whereas a range of tools is available to ensure the effective implementation of the principle, including the application of an SME test to forthcoming legislative proposals;

F.     whereas the current IA guidelines provide for specific guidance in the form of an ‘SME test’, including for possible mitigation measures; whereas the draft revised guidelines do not include any provisions on the SME test;


1.      Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to regularly reviewing the IA guidelines with a view to improving the IA procedures;

2.      Is concerned, however, that the draft revised guidelines are much less specific than the existing guidelines in terms of the scope for IAs and that they leave significantly more room for interpretation by the directorate-general responsible as regards the decision on whether or not an IA is required; believes that the existing practices involving the IAB and the Secretariat-General in the decision-making process should be retained;

3.      Believes that the Commission, and its agencies where relevant, should extend its existing approach to proposals which qualify for IA so as to include delegated and implementing acts, in particular where these may have significant impacts;

4.      Notes that the scope of an IA may in some cases not correspond to the proposals adopted where these are altered once submitted for approval by the College of Commissioners; requests that the draft revised guidelines state that the IA should be updated to ensure continuity between matters considered in it and any proposal finally adopted by the Commission;

Impact Assessment Board (IAB)

5.      Expresses serious concern at the fact that the role of the IAB in the IA process is not more clearly defined in the draft revised guidelines; insists strongly that the Commission reconsider this omission and that it more clearly set out procedures relating to the IAB in a new set of draft revised guidelines when responding to Parliament;

6.      Considers that such new procedures should establish in a clear, understandable and transparent manner the process for submission, revision and ultimate approval of IAs presented to the IAB;

7.      Reiterates its view that proposals should not be adopted by the Commission unless accompanied by a positive opinion from the IAB; underlines the fact that the IA process is, at best, undermined, if not – as is often the case – brought into disrepute, by the presentation of proposals accompanied by IAs which have not been approved by the IAB;

8.      Reminds the Commission, further, of Parliament’s request that the independence of the IAB be strengthened, and in particular that members of the IAB not be subject to political control or supervision by the Commission;

SME test

9.      Recalls that in its 2011 review of the Small Business Act the Commission considered it regrettable that only eight Member States had integrated the SME test into their national decision-making processes; welcomes the clear commitment by the Commission in that review to further strengthening the SME test; deplores, however, that contrary to these announcements, the SME test is not even mentioned in the draft revised IA guidelines;

10.    Insists that the SME test, as laid down in Annex 8 to the guidelines, should be maintained in order to avoid SMEs being disproportionately affected or disadvantaged by Commission initiatives compared with large companies;

11.    Stresses that in such cases the IA should include options covering alternative mechanisms and/or flexibilities in order to help SMEs comply with the initiative (as provided for in Annex 8.4); underlines, in this connection, the fact that the presumption of exclusion from the scope of new legislation currently envisaged for micro-enterprises should be extended to cover all SMEs as a starting position, to be rebutted by evidence as and where appropriate;

Competitiveness test

12.    Believes that the assessment of an impact on competitiveness should form a significant part of the IA process; considers that the draft revised guidelines should contain direction as to how impacts on competitiveness should be assessed and weighed in the final analysis; supports a standing presumption that proposals with a negative impact on competitiveness should be rejected, unless evidence supporting significant unquantifiable benefits is presented;

Application and monitoring

13.    Notes that the final form of a legislative act may differ significantly from the proposal adopted by the Commission; believes that it would be useful for a summary of the estimated benefits and costs to be prepared for adopted legislative acts, and updated to reflect changes from the analysis contained in the IA as a result of amendments made during the legislative process; considers that the monitoring and assessment of a proposal’s impact would be simplified by such an exercise;

Establishing a Better Regulation Advisory Body

14.    Welcomes the work and final report of the High-Level Group on Administrative Burdens, as mandated by the Commission; recalls the Commission’s intention, as stated in its latest communication on REFIT (June 2014), to establish a new high-level group on better regulation, consisting of stakeholder representatives and national experts;

15.    Urges the Commission to establish such a high-level advisory body on better regulation involving both stakeholder expertise and national experts as soon as possible; proposes a strong and independent advisory mandate for this body, inter alia on assessing the regulatory burdens of proposals including, but not limited to, administrative burdens and the cost of compliance, respect for subsidiarity and proportionality, and the choice of legal base, and suggesting better regulation initiatives and monitoring the implementation of EU legislation at national level; calls for Parliament and the Council to be involved in the expert nomination procedure;

16.    Calls on the Commission to submit new draft revised IA guidelines, taking into consideration the points stressed by this resolution and the newly introduced structure of the Commission, in particular the role of the new Vice-President in charge of Better Regulation;

Impact assessments in Parliament

17.    Calls for Commission IAs to be examined systematically and as early as possible by Parliament, and in particular at committee level;

18.    Recalls its resolution of 8 June 2011 on guaranteeing independent impact assessments(1), which called for more consistent use to be made of the parliamentary IA, an instrument that is already available; recalls that a specific budget line and dedicated services are available to cover the carrying-out of IAs; considers recourse to a parliamentary IA to be particularly necessary when substantive changes to the initial Commission proposal have been introduced;


°       °

19.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and the Council.


OJ C 380 E, 11.12.2012, p. 31.

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