Impact Assessment: Theory

  • Pierre Larouche


In the light of economic theories, this chapter investigates a series of distinct and sometimes competing rationales or purposes for Impact Assessment of legislation or regulation (IA). They include the mainstream economic rationale, i.e. improving the quality of legislation, as well as a number of purposes which link in with fundamental legal principles, such as accountability, transparency and democracy (representative, participative or counter majoritarian). They are complemented with more complex rationales based on specific strands of economic theory, including remedying information deficiencies and committing players in the legislative game. The picture would not be complete without the less rosy rationales, namely deregulation and legislative entrepreneurship. Most of these rationales—except for the last ones, which do fit part of the practice unfortunately—are compatible with each other, providing strong explanations for one or the other feature of IA. In the end, it seems more appropriate to picture IA as a multi-purpose instrument, following a number of strong and mutually reinforcing rationales. Through this fundamental inquiry, the chapter also highlights a number of open issues, including if and how IA constrains the decision maker, whether IA is available as evidence in subsequent judicial proceedings and how the expert, technocratic and political rationalities behind IA relate to each other.


Decision Maker European Union Impact Assessment Supra Note Public Authority 
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Copyright information

© T.M.C. ASSER PRESS, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the author(s) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC), Tilburg Law School, Tilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

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