Unequal Representation of Stakeholders in the Commission’s Impact Assessment Process and the Protection of the Decision-Making Process

Photo by Christian Lue

Dr. Carlo Petrucci, Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex, had a new article published in the European Review of Public Law (ERPL).

Participation of interest groups in the Commission’s decision-making process is a vital part of EU policy-making. Nonetheless, some interest groups are over-represented during this process due to their resources and information capabilities. As a result, they are capable of exerting considerable influence on the Commission’s decision-making process.

This problem is particularly severe during the impact assessment process where interest groups submit information through stakeholders’ consultations. They also request access to impact assessment documents in order to know the information held by the Commission during the preparation of a legislative proposal.

Against this background, the issue is whether unequal representation of stakeholders during the impact assessment process undermines the Commission’s decision-making process, thus justifying the Commission to refuse access to impact assessment documents (Article 4(3), Regulation No. 1049/2001).

In ClientEarth (C-57/16), the Court of Justice of the EU rejected this argument, but Dr. Petrucci’s article argues that in the absence of countervailing information, over-representation of stakeholders is capable of compromising the Commission’s decision-making process and the Commission may therefore justifiably prevent over-represented stakeholders from accessing impact assessment documents.

Dr. Petrucci’s article appears in Vol. 31, Issue No. 4 (114) of the ERPL. The ERPL examines a wide range of issues that relate to the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights, the national public law and practices, as well as to their mutual interaction and influence. 

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