Environmental Engineering Reference
and in the European parliament, as well as at national and regional administrations
were approached. We were in contact with more than 30 people by way of email
correspondence, personal interviews and organised information meetings in both
prime user and other organisations. As a result of this search process, information
about the aim of the project and its background in the Commission's Directive of
Impact Assessment has been effectively spread by the researchers.
The foregoing can be seen as a purely administrative process but it can also be
described as an interactive learning process. While investigating practitioners'
interest in and potential need for modelling tools, the researchers have at the same
time advocated the Commissions policy in its own administration, as well as in the
European Parliament and in national administrations and interest organisations.
The actors involved, the researchers and the officers in the administrations, have
participated in a process that may be described as interactive learning. This search
process could also be viewed as if researchers acted as lobbyists while anchoring the
idea of ex-ante impact assessment in general and assessment by help of modelling
tools in particular, among employees in the administrations.
When finally the right group of suitable and interested EC officers was targeted
it resulted in setting up a User Forum with people that were willing to work with
us. There has been some shift of individuals during the years but several people
have followed the forums from the start. The UF meetings have been regularly
attended by a core group of five to ten representatives from DG Agriculture, DG
Environment and DG Economy and Finances, EEA (European Environment
Agency) and JRC (Joint Research Centre). It has not been possible to include a
representative from the Secretariat General in the UF, which was unfortunate as
they have the overall responsibility for the IA development in the EC.
One of the learning experiences we made during the initialisation phase was
that according to the 'work culture' in the services, the DGs preferred not to
include representatives from organisations external to the Commission in this type
of forum. Originally we intended to create a UF with mixed participation with
representatives from the Commission services as well as other organizations such
as farmers unions, environmental organisations and the OECD.
The seven meetings that have been held have resulted in a knowledge exchange
which has been beneficial for the development of the framework. A systematic review
of the minutes from the meetings displays that the discussions have mainly revolved
around three types of themes: (i) positive and negative feedback on the presented ideas
concerning structure and content of the system; (ii) demands on technical performance
or knowledge content of the tool; and (iii) strategic advice from the UF concerning
best ways to approach and attract the interest of the DG's and other users.
Positive and Negative Feedback from a User Perspective
The early phase of interaction focused on explaining the idea of the framework
and its components in order to get feedback on its usefulness for the participants'
organizations. It became clear that an integrated framework for modelling policy