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Towards applying Nudge Thinking to EU Policies

EESC opinion: Towards applying Nudge Thinking to EU Policies

Summary

The opinion generally promotes the nudging approach as a complement to traditional public policy tools. It builds on recent developments in the field of behavioural sciences and in particular on the landmark book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (2008) which defines a nudge as "any aspect of the architecture of choice which changes people’s behaviour in a predictable way, without eliminating any of the options or drastically changing financial incentives". The opinion highlights the interest of nudging in policy-making, with in particular the creation of nudge units in a number of public authorities, including the US Administration, the French Government, the UK Government and the European Commission.

Key Points

The opinion draws up a number of recommendations:

  • Encourage the use of nudges in public policy-making in conjunction with traditional tools, in particular when nudges can help reach environmental, social or other objectives connected to sustainability;
  • Promote the exchange of good practices and knowledge about nudges and help interdisciplinary research on nudges;
  • Identify methodologies and ethical rules for using nudges, ensuring in particular transparency, freedom of choice for individuals, reliability of information nudges are based on and avoiding any approach tending to make people feel guilty;
  • Envisaging the organisation of the first European Days of nudges at the EESC.

Related links (NAT members only)

Join the dedicated Teamsite page for NAT/685 Towards applying Nudge Thinking to EU policies