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The unsustainable rationality of impact assessment

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The idea behind evidence-based instruments for policy-making is to provide objective information regarding the costs, benefits and risks involved in legislative proposals. An example of these instruments is the integrated Impact Assessment system, which has been in place in EU policy-making since 2003. Impact Assessments are designed according to rational decision models and aim to enhance the neutrality and objectivity of policy-making. This paper draws a comparison between the rational paradigm emerging from the EU template and the empirical evaluations carried out to date on Impact Assessments. It questions the conventional concept of Impact Assessments as rational policy-making instruments, because of the influential roles played by individual knowledge and data quality.

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