Parliamentary Question: Stakeholder involvement in impact assessments

Following a stakeholder workshop on the Commission’s proposal on implementing measures for the Fuel Quality Directive on 20 December 2012, many complaints were made on the part of several stakeholders that a lot of the Commission Guidelines on Impact Assessments of 15 January 2009 (especially their Chapter 4, on ‘Gathering information and consulting stakeholders’) were not sufficiently respected.

To shed light on the events leading to these complaints, Silvana Koch-Mehrin issued a Parliamentary Question to the Commission, asking:

  • “Could the Commission clarify how far the impact assessment guidelines are actually observed by its services?
  • Also, a number of relevant stakeholders complained that they had not received an invitation to the workshop. What are the criteria for who receives such invitations?
  • To what extent are the result of stakeholder conferences taken into account in the subsequent policy formulations?
  • Could the Commission provide a comprehensive overview of impact assessments and stakeholder conferences for 2012, as well as a chronology regarding compliance with the impact assessment guidelines in the above stakeholder consultation procedures?”

On 26 March, the President of the Commission José Manuel Barroso replied:

“Compliance of Commission impact assessments (IA) with IA guidelines is checked by the independent Impact Assessment Board.[1] The European Court of Auditors recently found Commission IAs to comply with the IA guidelines.[2]

Stakeholders are selected in line with the criteria set by the Commission’s minimum consultation standard B, taking into account the specific nature and objectives of each consultation, time and resource availability and the specificities of consultation method used[3].

Regardless the form of consultation, stakeholder input feeds into policy development, taking into account the representativeness and relative importance of different categories of respondents.

Publicly available IA reports give an overview of the consultation process, the positions expressed and how they are taken into account.[4] There were 72 IAs published in 2012, all based on some type of consultation. There are no statistics available on the number of stakeholder conferences held.

Concerning the implementing measures under the Fuel Quality Directive, extensive consultations, including sending a set of questions to leading stakeholders and a series of expert and stakeholder meetings, took place over the last 3 years.[5] Following stakeholders remarks, the deadline for comments requested at the end-2012 workshop was extended to 31 January and another workshop is being planned. The invitations to the December workshop were sent to competent authorities and umbrella organizations for individual stakeholders with sizable commercial interests in the EU’s fuel market or organizations representing social or environmental interests. Stakeholders were selected on the basis of past and recent interest in the topic.”

[1]        Relevant statistics are provided in the IAB annual reports:, IAB opinions on individual IAs can be accessed at:

[2]        European Court of Auditors, Special Report No 3, 2010, ‘Impact assessments in the EU institutions: do they support decision-making?’ (, page 7

[3]        COM(2002) 704

[4]        They can be accessed at: