In 2002, the European Union required that an impact assessment be done for all major initiatives, including many regulations, directives, decisions, and communications. This paper is the first paper to statistically analyze these impact assessments using the largest available dataset. As a benchmark, we compare our results in the EU with recent results on the quality of regulatory analysis in the U.S. We score impact assessments using a number of objective measures of quality, such as whether a particular assessment provides any quantitative information on costs or benefits, and use the scores to develop two indices of quality.
Our analysis suggests that European impact assessments typically exclude important economic information and their quality may have gotten worse from 2003 to mid-2005. We recommend that more economically significant EU initiatives receive higher levels of scrutiny, as is currently done for proposed regulations in the U.S.