Reconciling participatory and evidence-based policymaking in the EU Better Regulation policy: mission (im)possible?

Modern systems of governance are increasingly adopting measures aimed at fostering public participation in policymaking, while embedding decisions in scientific evidence under the label of Better Regulation policy. Existing research identifies tensions between participatory and evidence-based approaches. This prompts questions about one of the most ambitious reforms to combine and enhance participatory and evidence-based tools of policymaking, initiated by the European Commission in 2016. We assess the extent to which this reform successfully combined and expanded the participatory layer of supranational policymaking while also strengthening its evidence-based credentials by analysing stakeholders’ evaluations. We find that stakeholders assess both sets of measures as part of a single, integrated dimension. Participatory measures received slightly better appraisals and were better known, but both sets of measures were evaluated positively and there are no significance differences in evaluations across stakeholder categories. This points to the complementarity of measures from a stakeholder perspective.