Europeans to have more say
Better publicity for more effective public consultations.
SW – 09/2019
‘I want Europeans to build the future of
our Union’, announced Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the Commission,
in her guidelines for the next European Commission. She wants a greater push
for European democracy. Furthermore, European citizens should play a leading
and active role in setting priorities and objectives.
Through its Better Regulation Agenda, the
European Commission wants to ensure transparency in the legislative process and
give citizens and stakeholders the opportunity to participate in the
development and evaluation of EU legislation and policies. The umbrella associations
of the German social insurance system also make regular use of opportunities to
provide policy advice.
Special Report by the European Court of Auditors
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has
now published a special
report in which it assessed whether the European Commission’s public
consultations have effectively contributed to involving citizens and
stakeholders in the adoption and evaluation of EU legislation. The auditors
came to a mostly positive conclusion. The EU Commission’s framework for
consulting the public during the preparation and evaluation of EU legislation
and policies is of a high standard.
Areas for improvement identified by the
auditors included insufficient publicity and feedback from the Commission. The
auditors found that the consultations with the lowest response rates were those
where the Commission used few communication channels for publicity, as opposed
to those with very high response rates. Increased publicity and the translation
of surveys into all official EU languages could lead to greater participation
The ECA also recommended providing timely feedback
on the outcome of the consultations. In some cases, no reports on the results
were prepared after the consultation, or only after a long delay and often only
EU Commission’s stocktaking
The Commission itself also conducted a stocktaking of the Better Regulation programme in April 2019 (see article May 2019),
having previously given citizens and stakeholders the opportunity to express
their views in a public consultation. The umbrella associations of the German
social insurance system were also involved (see article Nov
2018 and full position
paper) and pointed out that a thorough analysis and detailed presentation of
the results would help to make evaluation processes more transparent. In
addition, the German Social Insurance has called for impact assessments, where it
is deemed appropriate, to take a thorough look at social and health issues.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
is also currently addressing the topic of better regulation and is calling for
an integrated impact assessment which takes account of criteria such as social
protection, employment and health. In its Opinion,
which will be discussed in the Committee’s plenary session at the end of
September, the EESC calls on the Commission to develop a ‘smart evaluation
matrix’ which will make it possible to assess the impact of major amendments
proposed by co-legislators and stakeholders.
The EESC considers that continuing the
Better Regulation Agenda should be made conditional on certain substantive
improvements and proposes that responsibility for the programme be given to a Vice-President
of the new EU Commission.