Undertaking consultations with both stakeholders and the public, represents a critical element of policy development within a democratic political system. It helps to ensure transparency, inclusiveness and accountability, and can improve the relevance, practicality and ultimately the effectiveness of policy initiatives. As part of its Better Regulation Agenda, the European Commission provides multiple opportunities to stakeholders and the public to share their views through public consultations on policy initiatives requiring an impact assessment, evaluations, or fitness checks.
In the context of our policy work, in particular our evaluation work, Milieu regularly provides assistance to the European Commission in carrying out and analysing public consultations, and conducts targeted consultations of stakeholder groups with a specific interest in a particular policy matter. Milieu has extensive experience in a range of consultation methods and tools, including online questionnaires, stakeholder workshops and focus groups, face-to-face and telephone interviews, email contact, and the investigation of specific case studies. We have also developed dedicated project websites for communication and the submission of comments and data.
Some examples of Milieu’s work in this field are:
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a procedure carried out by authorities at national, regional and local level responsible for the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes (including spatial plans, development strategies, sectoral strategies, Operational Programmes for European structural and investment funds etc.). Their input, as well as those of environmental authorities, practitioners/consultants, NGOs and industry associations, were crucial in understanding and assessing the implementation and performance of the Directive in the EU.
In 2018-2019, Milieu carried out a study to support the REFIT evaluation of Directive 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment (SEA Directive). Milieu supported the organisation of the public consultation, as per Better regulation Guidelines, and conducted separate stakeholder consultations through an online questionnaire and interviews in 11 Member States conducted in the national language by Milieu experts.
The REACH Regulation is the core piece of EU chemicals’ legislation which regulates the manufacturing, placing on the market and use of chemical substances and mixtures. Because of the broad use of chemicals in the manufacturing of products and industrial processes, REACH affects a very large range of sectors beyond the chemicals’ industry, as well as consumers.
In 2017, Milieu supported DG Environment and DG GROW with the evaluation of the REACH Regulation by analysing the results of the public consultation and the consultation of SMEs carried out through the Europe Enterprise Network. The public consultation received contributions from a large number of industrial sectors, NGOs, authorities and consumer organisations and presented diverging views on the implementation of REACH and what needs to be improved. The work of Milieu was to provide the Commission with a comprehensive and unbiased picture of stakeholders’ views that could feed into the evidence base for the evaluation. The work consisted of the statistical analysis of closed questions, the analysis and summary of open comments and position papers sent in addition to the consultation questionnaire.
The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS), adopted in 2011, aims to tackle poverty, social exclusion and discrimination of the Roma by promoting their equal access to education, employment, health and housing in the EU and in enlargement countries. It encourages Member States and enlargement countries to take up a comprehensive approach to Roma integration and socio-economic inclusion through the adoption of a National Roma Integration Strategy.
In 2017-18, Milieu contributed to the mid-term evaluation of the EU Framework for NRIS. In-depth stakeholder interviews and surveys in Member States and candidate countries were a crucial source of information on the implementation of the strategies at national level. In addition, the results of a public consultation and case studies provided the views held by stakeholders on the EU Framework and NRIS.