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Climate change in the European
Commission’s Impact Assessment.
An evaluation of selected impact
assessment reports
Valentine van Gameren, Centre d’Etudes du Développement
Durable, Institut de Gestion de l’Environnement et de
l’Aménagement du Territoire, Université Libre de Bruxelles
European Environmental Evaluators Network Forum 2012
9th February 2012
Impact assessment system of the European
Commission (EC IA)
Development of ‘integrated impact assessments’(IIA):
economic, social and environmental impacts in a single
assessment instrument
“the process of systematic analysis of the likely impacts
of intervention by public authorities » (EUROPEAN
COMMISSION, Communication from the Commission on
Impact Assessment, COM 276 Final, Brussels, 2002, p3)
Established in 2002- implemented since 2003
Revisions of guidelines in 2005 and 2009
Integration of environmental impacts in IIA?
Environmental policy integration theory: impact
assessments = procedural instruments that contribute to
integrate environmental concerns into sector-based
But risk of IIA to underestimate environmental (and
social) impacts w/r to economic impacts
- EC IA system: tension induced by the double origin of
the system, i.e 1) better regulation and Lisbon agenda
and 2) sustainable development agenda
Research questions
Analysis focused on the integration of one kind of
environmental impacts, i.e. climate change = one of the
biggest environmental challenges for European policy
Question 1
Are impacts on climate
change of policy
proposals taken into
account in selected
EC IA reports?
Question 2
In which manner are
these impacts
Assumption 1
Assumption 2
Struggle against climate change = one
important challenge for EU policy
Differences between IA reports in the level
of assessment of impacts on climate
One of the objectives of the EC IA system
= “a more coherent implementation of
the European strategy for Sustainable
Development” (EUROPEAN
COMMISSION, Communication from
the Commission on Impact
Assessment, COM 276 Final, Brussels,
2002 p2).
CC= top priority in SD strategy
Differences due to different factors,
namely the participation of DG ENV to
the IA process i.e. in the inter-service
// recommendation of EC IA evaluation
reports to better assess environmental
EC IA guidelines: CC in checklist of
environmental impacts
→ Level of assessment of CC impacts
linked to the level of involvement of
→ impacts on climate change are
assessed by IA reports, especially
those dealing with policy proposals
related to climate change issues
Content analysis of a selection of IA
Interviews with EC staff
Content analysis of selected IA reports
Selection of 14 IA reports
DG responsible: AGRI- DEV- ENTR- RTD- TREN
Policy proposals: binding (regulations, directives, decisions) and non
binding (communications)
Between 2005 and 2009
Policy proposals: topics linked to climate change issues
Analysis grid
Identification of references to climate change and their place in the
different chapters of the reports (problem definition, objectives, options,
impacts, comparison of options, monitoring)
Qualitative assessment : description of the characteristics of climate
change as environmental risk (irreversibility, inertia, globality, …)
Quantitative assessment: quantification, monetarization, modelling or
specific methodologies
Stakeholders’ consultation
Advice from the IA board
DGs in the inter-services group
‘Quality criteria’ w/r to assessment of
impacts of policy proposals on climate
coherence between the subject of the policy initiative and
the references to climate change
coherence between the place of these references to climate
change in the different chapters of the report
balance between qualitative and quantitative assessment
Complementary to content analysis
Semi-directive interviews
Focused on institutional elements: involvement
of DGs in inter-services groups, stakeholders
European Commission’s members
Authors of the selected IA reports
DG ENV: climate change strategy unit and IA unit
SEC GEN: Better regulation and IA unit
Assumption 1 is confirmed
All reports of the sample assess impacts on climate change
= Positive result w/r to critics of undervaluation of environmental
impacts by integrated impact assessments
Assumption 2 is invalidated
The level of assessment of impacts on climate change is not correlated
to the level of involvement of DG ENV in the IA process (interservice group)
Even if influence of DG ENV on the assessment of environmental has
been mentioned in interviews
→ Others factors should play a role
Other tested factors :
Consultation of environmental stakeholders
Advice from IA Board
Leading DG
Binding vs non binding nature of policy initiative
Year of publication
The sample showed an influence of leading DG on the
assessment of impacts on climate change
Explaining internal factors (staff training, resources etc)?
Other non tested factors:
IA teams and IA trainings // Influence of leading DG
Timing of IA process
Level of ‘openness’/flexibility of the policy initiative
Research perspectives
Larger sample/ other criteria of quality
CC Mitigation/ adaptation
Thank you for your attention!
IA reports
EU Strategy for Africa (2005- DG DEV)
Regulation on motor vehicles emissions (2005- DG ENTR)
Action plan for biomass (2005- DG TREN)
Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the seventh framework programme of the
European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013) (2005DG RTD)
Biofuels Communication (2006- DG AGRI)
Communication on EU Strategy for the Caribbean (2006- DG DEV)
Communication on EU Strategy for the Pacific Region (2006- DG DEV)
Regulation on type-approval of motor vehicles and engines with respect to emissions from heavy duty vehicles
(EURO VI) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information (2007- DG ENTR)
Communication on European Energy Strategic technology Plan (SET-Plan) (2007- DG TREN)
Renewable Energy Road Map (2007-DG TREN)
Joint Technology Initiative in the area of aeronautics and air transport 'Clean Sky' (2007- DG RTD)
Proposal for a Regulation setting up the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (2007-DG RTD)
Proposal for a Directive establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy related
products (2008-DG ENTR)
Communication: EU strategy for supporting disaster risk reduction in Developing Countries (2009-DG DEV)