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Narrating impact assessment in the European Union

Radaelli, C.M., Dunlop, C.A. and Fritsch, O.ORCID: 0000-0001-8995-8634 (2013) Narrating impact assessment in the European Union. European Political Science, 12 (4). pp. 500-521.

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Since 2003, the European Commission has produced analytical documents (called Impact Assessments, IAs) to appraise its policy proposals. This appraisal process is the cornerstone of the regulatory reform policy of the European Union. Previous research has been concerned with the quality of the IAs in terms of evidence-based policy, usages of economic analysis and other standards of smart regulation. Instead, we move to a different perspective. We draw on the narrative policy framework to explore IAs as a text and discursive instrument. Conceptually, insights from discursive institutionalism are used to explore narratives as tools of coordination within complex organizations such as the European Commission, and as communicative tools through which policy-makers seek to enhance the plausibility, acceptability and, ultimately, legitimacy for their policy proposals. Empirically, we consider a sample of IAs that differ by originating DGs, legal instrument, and level of saliency. The findings show that both in coordinating and communicating policy, the European bureaucracy projects a certain definition of its identity via the narratives it deploys. The Commission may use IAs to produce evidence-based policy, but it also an active narrator. It engages with IAs to provide a presentation of self, to establish EU norms and values, and to create consensus around policy proposals by using causal plots, doomsday scenarios, and narrative dramatization.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright: © 2013 European Consortium for Political Research
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