Economic Assessment of Measures

In order to design the most effective, efficient and economically viable environmental policy, the FOEN assesses environmental policy measures with the aid of a manual (Economic Assessment of Environmental Measures (known by the German acronym VOBU)). The manual serves as a tool for assessing the environmental, economic and social impacts of environmental policy and the efficiency of implementation.

Environmental policy measures (e.g. legislative projects, sets of measures and action plans) have an impact on the economy, society and the environment (economic repercussions). In order to study the effect of measures and to assess the efficiency of their implementation, in 2006 the FOEN developed a manual containing guidelines on how to perform an economic assessment of environmental measures.

The manual is in line with the guidelines of the federal regulatory impact analysis (RIA) and is largely consistent with the sustainability assessment. However, it addresses in detail the specific aspects of environmental policy.

The manual serves as a guide for examining environmental measures in relation to costs, benefits, effectiveness, economic sustainability for the sectors or regions concerned, and ease of implementation: it serves as guidance for shaping an environmental policy that is as effective as possible and economically viable and for improving it on an ongoing basis. At the same time, the aim is to provide transparency regarding the impact of such measures.

Following a decision by the Directorate, an economic assessment of environmental measures is mandatory at the FOEN for all new provisions at ordinance, legislative and constitutional level (not for implementation guides). Such an assessment is also recommended for all projects (e.g. sets of measures and action plans) for which a relevance analysis has identified significant potential negative effects for the target groups concerned and/or the public sector, and for the review of existing measures, the economic impact of which is disputed.

The Economics Section conducts VOBU training at least once a year. All FOEN section heads and chiefs of staff are required to attend this training course once. Furthermore, the course is recommended for all other members of staff involved in revising acts and ordinances. The Directorate is regularly updated with the latest information.

The OECD recommends that, where regulation is concerned, the economic, social and environmental benefits justify the costs, that the distributional effects are considered, and that the net benefits are maximised. Costs and benefits may be identified, for example, through a cost-benefit analysis. The OECD publication entitled Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Environment (2018) provides an overview of recent developments in the theory and practical application of environmental cost-benefit analyses.

The VOBU provides the FOEN with a tool for prospective assessment of new legal bases and measures. To ensure better regulation, however, it is also important to conduct an ex-post evaluation of the measures implemented in order to assess whether the measures deliver the intended results. The FOEN performs such evaluations on a regular basis to assess existing measures, programmes, projects and legislation.

Further information

Last modification 22.01.2020

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