Evaluation of cohesion policy
in the Member States

Why evaluation?

Evaluation is a key dimension of cohesion policy-making as it supports policy design and implementation with robust evidence on the outcomes and impacts of the interventions.
The rules that govern the planning and implementation of cohesion policy focused increasingly on assessing its impacts. In the period 2014-2020, the Member States have been obliged (for the first time) to carry out evaluations to assess the effectiveness, efficiency and impact of the objectives of each programme. Cohesion policy rules apply to the European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund. 
Insights into the volume, focus and nature of the resulting national evaluations are presented below. They are based on this open dataset: Cohesion policy programme evaluations (2015 to date) and are regularly updated.  

A large amount of evidence, with diverse approaches

Since 2015, more than 1 000 evaluations have been completed by the Member States, addressing different funds, themes and regions and monitoring progress of implementation and/or analysing the impact of interventions. They refer to both the 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 programming periods.
The number of evaluations in the Member States varies widely. This reflects significant differences in the volume and scope of investment financing, the number of programmes in a Member State, and the approach proposed in the evaluation plans. In addition, some countries prefer to undertake a larger number of smaller evaluations, while others aggregate. 

What comes under the evaluation lens?

Most of the evaluations address implementation questions and examine progress towards achieving the targets. They focus on the coherence of projects and actions with the programmes' objectives and the effectiveness and efficiency of their implementation. They also explore whether the available funding is likely to be spent and if the targets set, especially those in the performance framework, are likely to be reached.
Impact evaluations are carried out later in the programme cycle, when most actions are not only completed but have also produced results. 

Impact evaluations have been increasing in 2014-2020

While the number of impact evaluations of 2014-2020 programmes is still relatively low, it is increasing rapidly and it is expected to reach its maximum towards the end of the period.

This is also the case for using advanced methods

The use of more advanced methods shows Member States' commitment to improving cohesion policy and ensuring that it is well targeted towards supporting job creation and sustainable growth and investment.

What themes have received most coverage in 2014-2020?

At the half-way point of the programming period, most of the evaluations focus on social themes, partly due to the requirement for Member States to undertake impact evaluations of the Youth Employment Initiative by the end of 2015 and 2018.

Completed evaluations tend to concentrate on measures that are quicker to implement, such as the promotion of sustainable and quality employment, which directly benefits people in the EU.
The distribution of evaluations across thematic objectives can be filtered by country and fund (some evaluations can cover multiple funds).

Focus on: Research and Innovation

Following the thematic concentration requirements, a large volume of ERDF investment resources is dedicated to strengthening research, technological development and innovation. The highest amounts planned for enhancing research and innovation (R&I) infrastructure, promoting business investment in R&I and developing links and synergies between enterprises, research and development centres and the higher education sector have been allocated in Poland, Spain and Germany. Poland also has the highest number of evaluations, although to date they focus mainly on process and monitoring.

What are the latest evaluations completed?

Have a look at the list of the most recent evaluations. The final evaluation reports are available in the Evaluation Library, where the evaluations completed by the Member States can be filtered and searched. In most cases, the reports are in national languages, but are accompanied by a summary in English.

(Please note that the summaries of the most recent evaluations are available with some delay.)

Learn more

For further information, please contact: REGIO-EVAL@ec.europa.eu and EMPL-G5-ESF-EVALUATION-PARTNERSHIP@ec.europa.eu
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Rev. 2023/02 - REGIO/B2 - C. AMATI