Procedure : 2014/2967(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0313/2014

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PV 27/11/2014 - 10.6
CRE 27/11/2014 - 10.6
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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))

Pavel Telička, Jean-Marie Cavada, Antanas Guoga, António Marinho e Pinto, Dita Charanzová on behalf of the ALDE Group

B8‑0313/2014 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 (IA) guidelines and the corresponding draft revised IA guidelines,

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

A.     whereas 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, the administrative burden to be expected and the cost and benefits of alternative courses of action for all stakeholders;

B.     whereas the existing impact assessment guidelines provide for a central role for the Commission 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 according to a Commission expert group, the cost for an SME to comply with a regulation can be 10 times greater than for larger companies; whereas, therefore, a proper and independent IA is of particular relevance for SMEs, which often have more 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 the foundation of the Small Business Act for Europe of 2008; whereas it has been part of the IA guidelines since 2009, and of other Commission texts since 2005; whereas this 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 this principle, including the application of an SME test to forthcoming legislative proposals;

F.     whereas the SME test, including possible mitigation measures, has been part of the IA guidelines since 2009, and of other Commission texts since 2005; whereas the draft revised guidelines do not include any provisions on the SME test;

G.     whereas a proper assessment of Parliament’s substantive amendments to the initial Commission proposal shows considerable added value to support Parliament’s position in trilogue negotiations;


1.      Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to regularly reviewing the impact assessment 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 should maintain its existing approach of submitting an IA for all initiatives meeting at least one of the following criteria:

–            legislative proposals included in the Commission’s Legislative and Work Programme (CLWP);

–            non-CLWP legislative proposals with clearly identifiable economic, social, environmental and administrative-burden impacts;

–            non-legislative initiatives which define future policies (e.g. white papers, action plans, expenditure programmes and negotiating guidelines for international agreements);

–            delegated or implementing acts which are likely to have identifiable economic, social, environmental and administrative-burden 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;

5.      Points out that IAs must not be misused as a means of opposing an item of legislation with which an institution does not agree or of undermining the legislator’s ability to propose amendments;

6.      Notes that the assessment of the impact must be rigorous, comprehensive and based on accurate, objective and complete information, with an analysis which is proportionate and focuses on the proposal’s aim and objective, so as to allow a well informed political decision;

7.      Stresses that the IA process should be transparent and be published on the Commission’s website;

Impact Assessment Board

8.      Expresses serious concern at the fact that the role of the IAB in the impact assessment process is not more clearly defined in the draft revised guidelines; strongly insists that the Commission reconsider this omission and set out procedures relating to the IAB more clearly in a new set of draft revised guidelines when responding to Parliament and that any initiative which requires an IA should be subject to a positive opinion from the IAB; considers that the College of Commissioners should not examine any legislative or non-legislative initiative which would not have an IA positively cleared by the IAB;

9.      Is of the opinion that the IAB should continue to work as an independent quality control body within the Commission, and requests that the IAB’s independence from the Commission directorates-general and the Secretariat-General be significantly strengthened; considers that the IAB should be composed only of highly qualified people; proposes that the IAB report directly to the Commission Vice‑President responsible for Better Regulation;

SME test

10.    Recalls that the Commission, in the Small Business Act, made a commitment to implementing the ‘think small first’ principle in its policymaking, and that this includes the SME test to assess the impact of forthcoming legislation and administrative initiatives on SMEs; stresses that it is vital to make sure that this test is done properly, and considers that there is a significant margin of progress still to be completed;

11.    Highlights the importance of consulting stakeholders representing SMEs on the first draft of impact assessments, before finalisation, and at the earliest possible stage with a view to carrying out a rigorous SME test; considers that the Commission should improve the format of consultation in order to better reach out to SMEs;

12.    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 the fact that, contrary to the Commission’s announcements, the SME test is not even mentioned in the draft revised IA guidelines;

13.    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;

14.    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); welcomes, in this connection, the a priori exclusion of micro-enterprises from the scope of a legislative proposal as a policy option stated in the draft revised guidelines;

Establishing a Better Regulation Advisory Body

15.    Welcomes the work of and the final report submitted by 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;

16.    Urges the Commission to establish such a high-level Better Regulation Advisory Body involving both stakeholder expertise and national experts, together with a Parliament representative as an observer, as soon as possible; proposes a strong and independent advisory mandate for this body, which should include assessing the administrative burden of proposals, 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;

17.    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

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

19.    Recalls its resolution of 8 June 2011 on guaranteeing independent impact assessments(1), calling for more consistent use to be made of the parliamentary IA, and points out that an IA unit is an instrument already available to carry out IAs; considers recourse to a parliamentary IA to be particularly useful prior to the adoption of major substantive changes or amendments introduced to the initial Commission proposal;

Impact assessments in the European Council

20.    Reminds the Council of its commitment to systematically assessing the impact of its own substantive amendments;



°         °



21.    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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