Estonia has not made any major changes to its regulatory framework since 2014. Preliminary regulatory impact assessments (RIAs) are prepared for all primary laws and selected subordinate regulations. Full RIAs tended to be conducted rarely, and while that remains the case, simplified RIAs are included in every explanatory letter of draft laws. The level of analysis contained within them has deepened over time.

The Legislative Quality Division within the Ministry of Justice reviews the quality of RIAs and can return them for revision if quality standards are not met. It is also responsible for the systematic improvement and evaluation of regulatory policy. The Minister of Justice reports annually to parliament on the application of Better Regulation principles, including the compliance of RIA and stakeholder engagement practices with formal requirements. The Division also issues RIA guidelines and scrutinises the legal quality of draft regulations. The Government Office of Estonia complements this work by co-ordinating stakeholder engagement in policy making across government. This includes issuing guidelines on stakeholder engagement, managing the country’s e-consultation system and promoting the engagement co-ordinators’ programme. The Government Office’s EU Secretariat performs a co-ordination function regarding EU law and its transposition, and its Legal Department has a role scrutinising the legislation.

Estonia places a strong focus on accessibility and transparency of regulatory policy by making use of online tools. The online information system EIS tracks all legislative developments and makes RIAs available on a central portal. For public consultations, in addition to EIS, other channels are used to disseminate information such as ministries’ websites, social media platforms, and general media. Later-stage consultation is conducted for all regulations. Public online consultations to inform officials about the nature of the policy problem and identify policy options are conducted in some cases.

Ex post evaluation has been mandatory for some regulations since 2012. The first evaluations were undertaken in 2018. In general, ex post evaluations take place between 3–5 years after the implementation of the regulation and have covered areas of competition, administrative burden, and regulatory overlap. More recently in-depth reviews have begun to be conducted in some policy areas. The publication of ex post evaluations remains at the discretion of the relevant minister. Estonia could support the implementation of its ex post evaluation requirements by embedding stronger capacity to scrutinise the quality of ex post evaluations into the existing framework. The objective to increase the proportion of ex post evaluations is set out in the new strategy document Principles for Legislative Policy until 2030, adopted in November 2020.

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