Since the Treaty of Maastricht (1992), every person holding the nationality of a European Union (EU) Member State is automatically a citizen of the EU and is granted an additional set of rights. In 2007, the Lisbon Treaty strengthened EU citizenship by making the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding and by expanding the opportunities for democratic participation and increasing the visibility of EU citizen rights. Citizens are and must be at the heart of European integration. Therefore, it is important to make citizens’ lives easier, to help them understand their rights and involve them in a debate on the Europe they want to live in and build for future generations (European Commission, 2013, p.3). At the same time, the European Commission has noted in its 2010 EU citizenship report and in its 2013 EU citizenship report that citizens face difficulties in exercising their rights and are not always aware of the rights they legally possess (European Commission, 2010; European Commission, 2013).
To overcome possible barriers and stimulate opportunities for exercising EU citizenship an impact assessment for new policies and regulations might be useful. However, existing Commissions impact assessment guidelines do not focus on EU citizenship impacts. The focus is on economic, social and environmental impacts. Therefore, it is necessary to include EU citizenship. Bakker et al. (2016, p.12) note: “An impact assessment guideline where EU citizenship is included will make decision makers aware of risks for new barriers for citizens when exercising their citizenship rights and, in an ideal world, make them aware of what policies and regulations offer increased opportunities for exercising these rights. In the long term, this leads to a European administrative reality in which it is more easy and common for individual citizens to exercise their EU citizen rights”.
To develop an impact assessment framework that focuses on EU citizenship too, different steps are taken within the bEUcitizen project. First, in the working paper (D11.1) ‘Assessing policy implications for EU citizenship’ (Bakker et al., 2016) options for an impact assessment framework for EU citizenship are explored. Favorable impact assessment approaches are identified even as the elements that should be included in the framework and what requirements the framework should meet. Second, in (D11.2) ‘Towards Impact Assessment indicators for EU citizenship’ (Bakker and Van der Kolk, 2016) eight indicators to assess EU citizenship are developed based on outcomes of the bEUcitizen project so far and existing impact assessment guidelines and documents. The insights from these papers have been a starting point for this report.
In this report, we aim to include EU citizenship impacts in an impact assessment tool. When we include EU citizenship impacts, Bakker et al. (2016) argued it is necessary to include two specific elements into the impact assessment framework: (1) to assess EU citizenship impacts attention is needed for both EU citizenship rights and participation in the EU (political) community (the so called technical-rational and post-positive perspectives) , and (2) attention need to be paid to the EU and national level and the interface between the impact assessments on both levels. We explain these two elements further in chapter 2. In chapter 3 a practical ‘rules of thumb’ guide for carrying out an impact assessment is presented. In seven practical steps we explain how to carry out an impact assessment for EU citizenship. To make these steps transparent and workable we present tools for policymakers. These tools, presented as infographics, can be used by policymakers to see in a glance which steps to take in an impact assessment and where to think about when assessing for instance social and EU citizenship impacts. This will help to make the execution of impact assessments more workable and useable for policy makers on the European and the national level, especially with regard to EU citizenship. Furthermore, we do a proposal for revising existing impact assessment documents of the Commission. In chapter 4 we will explain this briefly. In annex I we present an extended version of the Guidance on social rights, now including EU citizenship, and annex II suggests a revision of the existing Impact Assessment Guideline. The report ends with a final note on how these proposals fit into the existing EU strategies.
Read the full report here: D11.3-impact assessment tools