The European Commission publishes the 2021 Edition of its Better Regulation Guidelines and Toolbox [Jan/2022]
Impact assessment is a crucial tool for policymakers to generate and analyse reliable information on the impacts of policy and regulation. To provide consistent and comparable outputs, the European Commission is providing a framework that helps standardizing impact assessment approaches. The framework is detailed within the Better Regulation guidelines and toolbox documents which were updated in November 2021. These publications will be used for the continuous improvement of ESA’s economic analysis framework and assessment of its programmes’ impact of the European economy and society.
In its recently adopted Better Regulation Communication*, the European Commission reiterates the call for evidence-informed policymaking, a stronger approach to stakeholder consultation, burden reduction and the analysis of key impacts.
The Better Regulation Guidelines explain what Better regulation is and how it applies to the day-to-day practices of Commission officials preparing new initiatives and proposals, or managing existing policies and legislation. The Better Regulation Toolbox provides operational and detailed guidance on specific aspects, with substantial focus on Impact Assessment best practices.
The updated 2021 versions intend to adapt to current and future challenges for Member States by removing reoccurring obstacles, mainstreaming the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and integrating strategic foresight. One of the noticeable changes is the extension of the advised Impact Assessment. Indicators have not only become more diverse but also reiterate the focus on critical challenges like climate change and digitalisation.
The 2021 updates of the Guidelines and Toolbox provide essential reference and best practices for conducting such assessment in the space sector.
The common focus on climate and digitalisation are key messages and high-level strategic priorities as outlined in ESA DG Agenda 2025 and many impact indicators highlighted in the European Commission’s guidelines are already anchored fundamentally in space activities, such as technological sovereignty, innovation, and efficient use of resources.
The Better Regulation Toolbox presents 35 key indicators based on three impact areas: Economy, Society, & Environment. The full list can be found here (p. 137-138). Some impact indicators highly relevant for the space industry include for example:
- Sectoral competitiveness, trade and investment flows
- Positions of SMEs
- Resilience, technological sovereignty, open strategic autonomy, security of supply
- Innovation (productivity and resource efficiency); research (academic and industrial)
- Technological development / Digital economy
- Efficient use of resources (renewable & non-renewable)
- Public health & safety and health systems
- Education and training, education and training systems
- Public authorities (and budgets)
- Sustainable consumption and production
- Property rights / intellectual property rights
Both documents and more detailed information can be found here.
*2021, European Commission, Better Regulation: Joining forces to make better laws
 Besides impact assessment, the key instruments of better regulation are defined as “forward planning, stakeholder consultation, evaluation, quality control, and compliance support/ implementation”.