Annual Review 2017 of the Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis
Broader skills base and allocating sufficient time for law drafting deemed necessary
The Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis issued statements on a number of key government proposals. The statements comprised shortcomings in impact assessments, half of which the ministries later remedied. To improve the quality of law drafting, the ministries need a broader skills base and the support of decision-makers by making sure a sufficient amount of time is reserved for the drafting process, for instance.
The Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis examined 26 draft government proposals last year. This is roughly one tenth of all government proposals formulated by Government in 2017. The emphasis in the assessment was on extensive draft proposals. This means that in terms of the total number of memoranda pages, the Council assessed roughly one third of the total number of pages of government proposals.
The Council issued statements on proposals drawn up by almost all ministries. Government proposals drawn up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health generated the highest number of statements. While a handful of impact assessments were of good quality, there were many shortcomings in most assessments. The weaknesses were mainly related to impact assessments made on companies, households and public authorities. Assessments on the position of citizens and in the impact of healthcare and social welfare, which incorporate for example impacts on equity, children and gender equality, were also somewhat inadequate.
A rough estimate indicates that just over a half of the shortcomings listed in the Council’s statements was addressed at least in part later in the process.
There was a high degree of technicality or other obscurity in the language of many government proposals. These are an impediment to comprehension. From the viewpoint of compliance with the law and respecting the law, it is important to ensure that not only experts but also other people are able to understand adequately the envisioned legislative amendments and their impacts.
Based on the Council's observations, to be able to improve the quality of legislation, the ministries need more resources for drawing up impact assessments. Expertise in the fields of economics and social sciences, in particular, should be made available in law drafting. This would make it possible to prepare more comprehensive impact assessments. However, improving the quality of legislation cannot succeed without the support of political decision making. Allocating sufficient time to law drafting is an essential aspect of this support.
Inquiries: Leila Kostiainen, Chairperson of the Council, tel. +358 400 805 417