July 26, 2017
by Guillaume Périgois

Is neutral policy-making possible?

An interesting Brussels initiative established to improve policy making by the EU and an answer to the question “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”


The Impact Assessment Institute is an interesting Brussels initiative established to improve policy making by the EU.

What it does is to assess EU regulations and in particular the impact assessments that the Commission undertakes on its own policies. These Commission IA’s are themselves supposed to be an objective assessment – before policy is implemented – of its likely effects.

So why the need for a separate institute?

Well, you’re never going to put forward a policy if the IA says its effects will be negative. So in-house IA’s almost always say the policy will be beneficial. Which could raise the suspicion that EC impact assessments (like those produced by national governments) are made to fit the policy.

So the idea of an independent body overseeing this process is a good one. It answers Juvenal’s famous question Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The Impact Assessment Institute has just published a sensible looking assessment of alcohol excise duties. Here’s hoping it turns its attentions to tobacco regulation before too long!

Featured image: “who watches the watchmen” by David Masters is licensed under CC BY 2.0