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The EU’s Commission Regulatory Scrutiny Board: better regulation or biased influence on legislation?
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science. (European Studies)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9664-1456
2023 (English)Report (Refereed)
Sustainable development
SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, SDG 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Alternative title
The EU’s Commission Regulatory Scrutiny Board: Better regulation or biased influence on legislation? (English)
Abstract [en]

This study examines the role and impact of the European Commission’s Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB) on the EU legislative process. The RSB was created in 2015 as an oversight body to assess the quality of draft impact assessments, fitness checks, and major evaluations within the Commission. While some studies have argued that the RSB contributes to better regulation, recent examples in EU decision-making (e.g., the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive) cast doubts over its role and potential biases towards large industries. Therefore, this report analyses the RSB's role and potential influence and has two interlinked aims. First, to shed light on the RSB's inner activities, the report provides a literature review on the better regulation agenda and the development of the RSB, as well as an analysis of the RSB's activities from 2015 to 2022. Second, to scrutinise the RSB's potential influence on EU’s legislative decision-making, the report presents the main voices of critics towards the RSB in selected legislative examples. The overall aim is to shed light on the RSB’s role in the EU legislative process and explore to what extent its opinions may influence decision-makers in this process. 

Based on an analysis of the official RSB documents, a vast range of Commission’s documents, newspaper articles, reports by interest groups and NGOs, and seven elite interviews, the study provides four concrete policy recommendations for the RSB in EU's legislative process. First, the study argues that the better regulation agenda and the RSB toolbox should be evaluated again in light of the current high ambitions in the area of sustainability of the current Commission under Ursula von der Leyen. To ensure higher social and environmental standards, smarter than less regulation is often needed. Instead of having a narrowed focus on arithmetic principles like the regulatory offsetting (‘one-in, one-out’ approach), impact assessments should account for long-term impacts on society. Second, the study recommends that it is unnecessary to classify between positive versus negative opinions. Specifically, the study criticises the possibility of the RSB to issue second negative opinions as this tends to politicise the EU legislative process. Third, the study argues that the RSB’s de facto veto position should be abolished as second negative opinions tend to delay the legislative process, while enhancing polarisation among policy-makers. Fourth, the study recommends enhanced transparency and the facilitating access to RSB’s documents. 

The study suggests that the RSB promotes policy-making behind closed doors and lacks public accountability. Moreover, the structure and priorities of the RSB indeed imply that it potentially exerts a biased influence. The analysis of the RSB in this study demonstrates that external opinions are increasingly influencing the legislative process. The author calls for a rethinking of the current RSB and suggests considering alternatives to the Board. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Vienna: AK Wien, Abteilung Europa und Internationales und Lobby Control , 2023. , p. 52
Keywords [en]
European Commission, Regulatory Scrutiny Board, EU legislative process, impact assessments, better regulation, Corporate Due Diligence Directive, transparency, accountability
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Social Sciences, Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-120484ISBN: 9783706309523 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-120484DiVA, id: diva2:1753934
Available from: 2023-05-02 Created: 2023-05-02 Last updated: 2023-05-02Bibliographically approved

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Pircher, Brigitte

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