Take Out the Trash – Xmas changes to Brussels Impact Assessment Board

One of my favourite West Wing episodes is “Take Out the Trash Day“. It is about burying developments you’d rather not want anyone knowing about.

On 18 December 2014 the European Commission announced that “President Juncker appoints Dr Edmund Stoiber Special Adviser for Better Regulation; First Vice-President Timmermans announces reform of the Impact Assessment Board.” Most people in Brussels were heading back home for Xmas.

Despite being issued in the same press release, Dr Stoibler’s appointment and changes to the Impact Assessment Board are in fact two separate initiatives.

I can but only wonder if the decision to combine the two issues was taken by the micro-manager in chief,  Martin Selmayr (President Juncker’s Chief of Staff).

The changes are twofold. Important staffing reforms and the scope of work will change. Both changes deserve careful consideration.

External Experts to Support the IAB

First, the Impact Assessment Board will now be made up of 6 full-time members. At the moment, the members are 8 senior Commission officials, who do the job in addition to their Director day jobs. In future, the Board will be made up of 4 senior Commission officials and 2 external experts.

The posts for external experts will be advertised in the near future. Experts from the OECD and academia are likely applicants. Government or industry plants will likely be weeded out.

Deputy Secretary-General Marianne Klingbeil will continue to be Chair of the Impact Assessment Board.


Evaluators In Chief

Second, the scope of the work will expand. In addition to their current work of considering Impact Assessments for proposals, they will perform retrospective evaluations of current regulation. New initiatives will only be able to be tabled after a retrospective evaluation of the current regulation(s) has been undertaken.
This reform will likely slow down the start of any detailed consideration of current evaluations in the pipeline.