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Evaluation constitutes the systematic and impartial detailed assessment of an intervention and seeks to assess its success, with respect to its targets, giving answers to questions related with its efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability and to learn from it.

Evaluations are useful as they focus on the entire life cycle of an intervention: from its strategy (asking the question Are we doing the right things?), its implementation (Are things done correctly?) up to its utilisation (What lessons did we learn?) and ask questions making it possible to:

  • identify how efficient the interventions were, with respect to the use of resources;
  • contribute to decisions reached with respect to the management and allocation of available resources;
  • contribute to reaching decisions on the design or the manner of improving an intervention;
  • identify interventions to be continued, reproduced, scaled up or terminated;
  • analyse if the desired effects were achieved and the reasons for which they were achieved or not;
  • assess whether the intervention was meaningful for the participants;
  • support the decision making process for alternative interventions, competitive or not;
  • provide lessons, underscore achievements, showcase strengths and make specific recommendations for improving and revising an intervention;
  • help in establishing consensus on the causes of a problem and how to address it;
  • assess how and why the results are impacted by specific activities;
  • identify emerging problems and specify the procedures and the successes or failures during the implementation of an intervention.

In the programming period 2014-2020, special importance is attached to the role of evaluations in strengthening focus on programme results and evaluating the impacts of adopted policies.

The Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) 1303/2013 lays down the essential requirements for evaluation in the programming period 2014-2020, which sets forth the evaluations realised for the purpose of improving quality in planning and the implementation of programmes, as well as the evaluation of their effectiveness, efficiency and impact (article 54-1). All evaluations must be directly related with the rationale of the intervention and the special targets of each Operational Programme.

Based on the Regulation, in the new programming period, member-states must conduct a series of evaluations to improve design:

Ex ante evaluation
Ex-ante evaluation comprises a theoretical analysis, assessing the validity of the theory of change pursued by a programme and the rationale of the intervention, on which the design of the programme was based, prior to its implementation.

The circular on the implementation of the ex ante evaluation and the strategic environmental assessment of the Regional Operational Programmes for the period 2014-2020 (prot. no. 30941 /EYSSAAP 1605/ 12-7-2013), set out the main guidelines for organising and carrying out the ex ante evaluation for OPs, which were completed and submitted to the European Commission together with the Operational Programmes.

Evaluation during the programming period
It is useful for evaluations to be realised during the programming period, both with respect to implementation (implementation evaluation), as well as the impact of an intervention (impact evaluation).

The implementation evaluation is performed during the implementation of the Operational Programmes and considers the manner of their implementation and management, in order to support their smooth completion. For this reason, implementation evaluation is more useful in the beginning of the programming period, in the first stages of the intervention cycle.

Impact evaluation investigates the results of a specific intervention, the degree to which the aims set were realised and how different the results would have been without the intervention.  The role of the impact evaluation is to understand the function of an intervention and separate the impact caused by the intervention and that caused by other factors. For this reason impact evaluations are more useful later on, towards the final stages of a programming period.

Ex post evaluation
The purpose of ex-post evaluation is to create an exact picture of the entire programming period. The evaluation examines the effectiveness and efficiency of the Funds and their impact on economic, social and territorial cohesion, as well as their contribution to the EU's priorities for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Evaluation summarising report
The report summarises the findings of all the evaluations realised during the programming period and the main outputs and results of the programme, issues that were deemed to affect the programme performance and measures taken (article 114-2). The report aims to assist the member-states to prepare themselves for the next programming period and to support the ex-post evaluation to be carried out by the European Commission in collaboration with the member-states.

Evaluation Plan
In order to ensure that quality evaluations will be designed and realised for the programming period 2014-2020, the Common Provisions Regulation imposes the drawing up of one or more Evaluation Plans. The Evaluation Plan constitutes a strategic document that outlines how the evaluation of a programme will be performed and how the results of the evaluation will be used to improve the programme and reach decisions.

An Evaluation Plan aims at:

  • improving the quality of evaluations through proper design, including the identification and gathering of the necessary information
  • providing information based on the evaluations to the managers and decision makers
  • formulating a framework for designing impact evaluations
  • ensuring that evaluations will provide the necessary inputs for drafting the annual reports and the progress reports
  • facilitating the European Commission in compiling the findings from the member-states and communicating the available information
  • ensuring that the appropriate resources have been earmarked for the completion of the evaluations

In the context of the programming period 2014-2020, the decision has been reached to draw up an Evaluation Plan for each Operational Programme and an Evaluation Plan for the whole Partnership Agreement for the Development Framework – PA 2014-2020.

Last modification date: 19/02/2016