Guess who's assessing the assessors?

A RECENT attempt to cut back on the only thing the EU machine in Brussels does - produce reams of rules in the way only a bureaucrat can - has been met with derision by just about everybody who sees it.

By Tom Wise

A RECENT attempt to cut back on the only thing the EU machine in Brussels does - produce reams of rules in the way only a bureaucrat can - has been met with derision by just about everybody who sees it. I bring you the whole sorry tale.

A press release, issued on November 14, describes how the Commission will work to ensure better quality of “impact assessments” on new policy proposals.

At last, you might be tempted to think, something constructive. You could be tempted to conclude that this might actually stop some of the more perverse directives and thus cut down on the numbers of folk involved in bureaucracy. Perhaps it might realise that instead of helping, continual legislation was actually hindering.


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It goes on to say that, since 2003, the Commission has produced 160 such assessments and that these are now models of reference in many EU states. That is only 160, despite introducing hundreds of new regulations.

Indeed, they are so proud of their achievements in assessment that they have launched a new initiative called The Impact Assessment Board. We are told that this will consist of high level EU officials, selected on the basis of their expertise who will be asked to evaluate the work of the assessors. They will also be asked to consider which other EU initiatives are suitable for such investigation.

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Now what you will not know is that in August this year, yes only four short months ago when you were of course sunning yourselves on holiday, the Commission launched a “comprehensive evaluation” of the overall approach to, you guessed it, assessment.

So now we have a group of assessors assessing the work of another group of assessors who are examining the work of the original group of assessors!

If that were not bad enough, the Commission also boasts that it has established a “highly developed and extensive practice of ex-post valuation of existing actions.2 Thus, it says, the impact of existing actions can be better evaluated - or assessed - from “an ex-post perspective” and “that the results of such evaluations - or assessments - can be taken into account in developing new or follow up measures.”

So there you have it. Four levels of evaluation or assessments and an ongoing search for new things to assess. But why stop there? Someone has already cheekily suggested that this concern to get things right has unlimited potential. Think about it. Hundreds of assessors, all assessing each other. Why, it could go on for ever.

Of course, they will need ever more assessors, not just assessing themselves, but also the first lot of bureaucrats who will still be producing things to assess!

Perhaps the Commission should consider one of the better principles of management. Management exists to foresee potential problems and construct and evaluate potential solutions, should the problems arise. However, when you are up to your waist in alligators, it is sometimes difficult to remember that the original idea was to drain the swamp.

I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year, if in this mad world of political correctness, such does not offend.

Tom Wise is a Euro MP representing the East of England for the UK Independence Party.

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