Narrating Impact Assessment in the European Union
Radaelli, Claudio M.
Dunlop, Claire A.
European Political Science
Since 2003, the European Commission has produced analytical documents to appraise and support its policy proposals. These so-called impact assessments (IAs) are now quite common in the preparation of legislation in the member states of the European Union. Previous research has been concerned with the quality of the IAs in terms of evidence-based policy, especially in terms of economic analysis and other standards of smart regulation. In this article, we move from a different perspective. We draw on the narrative policy framework to explore impact assessment as text and discursive instrument. We consider a sample of IAs that differ by originating DGs, legal instrument, and level of saliency. The findings show that the narrative components of the IA are quite prominent in the sample. The Commission may use IA to produce evidence-based policy, but it also engages with IA to provide a presentation of self, to establish EU norms and values, and to create consensus around policy proposals by using causal plots, doomsday scenarios, and narrative dramatization.
This paper is based on research carried out with the support of the European Research Council grant on Analysis of Learning in Regulatory Governance, ALREG http://centres.exeter.ac.uk/ceg/research/ALREG/index.php. Previous versions of this paper were presented at the UK Political Studies Association (PSA) annual conference, Belfast 3-5 April 2012 and the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change conference, Berlin 5-6 October 2012. We are grateful to Mathias Delori and Anna Durnova for extensive comments on an early draft.
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