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01 March 2010

EU Better Regulation : social and health impacts

On 24.02.10, I attended a lunch time conference in the European Parliament on the theme "EU Better Regulation - from economic to citizen-centric," organised by the Smokefree Partnership. It was opened by Arlene McCarthy, MEP, who stressed that Better Regulation is a continuous learning process, and not deregulation, and was attended by about 50 participants, predominantly stakeholders from the health sector, but with a few business representatives and officials from the Commission.
This discussion comes after the publication of several recent interesting documents on social impacts: the Stiglitz Report, the EU Beyond GDP international initiative; and recent academic research into the origins of RIA;
Dr Anna Gilmore and Dr Katherine Smith, University of Bath presented research that suggests that British American Tobacco (BAT) has been the driving force behind the EU's Better Regulation framework ever since the 1990s, though the authoresses warn that "It is too early to say whether RIA will promote corporate objectives over public health in the way BAT and its allies hoped."
Discussions centrered on the quality of impact assessments, and especially the difficulty of quantifying benefits and costs (price of a human life?), the risks stemming from over-reliance on industry data, and on ways to improve the consultation of civil society before new legislation is drafted. A press release has been published.
See also Commission Guidance for assessing social impacts (CH MONTIN).

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