This independent blog collects news about projects or achievements in regulatory reform / better regulation. It is edited by Charles H. Montin. All opinions expressed are given on a personal basis.
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20 May 2015

Azerbaijan officials study RIA techniques

On 18-19 May, 17 officials from mainly economic ministries and one from Parliament participated in a capacity building workshop for the development of regulatory impact assement (RIA) in Azerbaijan ministries. 
The main purpose of the workshop (which was moderated by your blogger CH Montin) was to take stock of existing RIA in Azerbaijan and to lay the ground for making better use of this aid to government decision making. Over the two day programme, course members were able to pratice the skills required at crucial stages of RIA process, such as defining the problem/issue and the options, assessing the impacts, presenting the integrated analysis of the preferred option. It was made clear that both the evidence base and the consultation process needed to be significantly improved if the full potential of RIA was to be achieved in Azerbaijan. Existing RIA-type scrutinies would need severe upgrading to meet international RIA standards. Special attention was given to the European Commission RIA scheme which in many ways is the most advanced model.
Some practical steps were presented to participants to jump-start a national RIA scheme:
- Issuing a high-level explicit Government statement on the importance of good quality RIA documents to be prepared for the most economically significant new legislations, and emphasizing the importance of effective consultation with stakeholders on draft legislation;
- defining a Azerbaijan RIA methodology after discussion based on international best practice, in particular as reported by OECD publications;
- building capacities in the ministries by freeing officials from other tasks to start practicing RIA on the basis if possible of current or past legislations;
- setting up an oversight body in charge of verifying the quality of RIAs before the corresponding draft legislation is finalised.
 (photo above post: the moderator with some of the course members.)

New EU Better Regulation package

(from yesterday's press release labelled: "Better Regulation Agenda: enhancing transparency and scrutiny for better EU law-making") 
"Today, 19 May, The European Commission adopts its Better Regulation Agenda. This comprehensive package of reforms covering the entire policy cycle will boost openness and transparency in the EU decision-making process, improve the quality of new laws through better impact assessments of draft legislation and amendments, and promote constant and consistent review of existing EU laws, so that EU policies achieve their objectives in the most effective and efficient way."
Compulsory reading for BR experts, but nothing much in the way of novelties. The confirmation of the existing scheme is however welcome, and the new expressing of political commitment encouraging.
Perhaps the best element is the annoucement of a new inter-institutional agreement to improve the use of RIA by cooperation with the other institutions.
There are also updates on the regulatory burdens and REFIT programmes launched under the previous commission, which are worth taking note of.
Finally, there is an announcement that the Commission's Impact Assessment Board, operating since 2006, will be transformed into 'an independent Regulatory Scrutiny Board'. This confirms what was announced by VP Timmermans in December 2014, and corresponds to some MS suggestions (see joint paper). "Its members will have a more independent status and half of them will be recruited from outside the Commission. The board will have an expanded role in checking the quality of impact assessments of new proposals as well as fitness checks and evaluations of existing legislation."