Closing the regulatory cycle? A meta evaluation of ex-post legislative evaluations by the European Commission

Ellen Mastenbroek*, Stijn van Voorst, Anne Meuwese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Theoretically, ex-post legislative (EPL) evaluations play an important role in the European regulatory cycle. By critically assessing the administration, compliance or outcomes of legislation, they may allow for learning and inform enforcement. At the same time, the European Commission may have incentives not to evaluate, as EPL evaluations may lead to undesired policy change or repeal. Furthermore, the development of systematic, high-quality EPL evaluations is threatened by more technical problems in the sphere of evaluability. Hence, the odds are against the systematic production of high-quality evaluations in the European Union (EU). This article assesses this argument by conducting a meta evaluation of the coverage and quality of ex-post legislative evaluations by the European Commission, using two novel datasets. The main findings are that EPL evaluation coverage indeed is patchy, with no clear upward trend in recent years. EPL evaluation is primarily a matter of legislative obligation instead of own initiative. There is great scope, finally, for enhancing the quality of EPL evaluations, by improving methodological quality, stakeholder involvement and transparency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1348
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Ex-post evaluation
  • retrospective evaluation
  • EU legislation
  • better regulation
  • EU


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