EU Funding Policy Lacks Credibility When it Comes to Monitoring Success

| Press release

EU funding policy for poorer regions lacks clearly defined objectives and uniform standards for evaluating the programs. That is because the evaluations are commissioned by national or regional administrative authorities that have an interest in proving the success of their programs. This reduces the credibility of the success monitoring. These are the findings of a team of researchers from the ifo Institute and the ZEW (Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research) in Mannheim based on data from the Cohesion Open Data Platform, which contains the more than 2,500 evaluations by the Member States. The researchers therefore recommend setting up a European advisory body to evaluate the funding policy.

ifo President Clemens Fuest explains: “Previous evaluations that do not meet these standards report some unrealistically high impacts of cohesion policy, using unsuitable methods.”

Friedrich Heinemann, head of the research unit Corporate Taxation and Public Finance department at ZEW, adds: “The EU cohesion policy needs a transparent and impartial evaluation to ensure that the funds are being used efficiently and the desired objectives are being achieved. The use of advanced evaluation methods and the promotion of the de facto independence of evaluators are key factors for an effective cohesion policy in the EU.”

He said that the evaluation methods needed to be defined more precisely. In addition, the Member States would have to provide sufficient resources for their evaluations. An ‘evaluate first’ principle should also be implemented. The funding programs would then only be adjusted once they had been evaluated. In addition, the researchers recommend the implementation of a ‘Charter for Evaluators’ that sets out minimum standards for evaluations. All of these requirements are aimed at improving the transparency of evaluation processes in order to ensure informed decision-making and effective use of evaluation results.

The researchers also see significant room for improvement in collaboration between the member states. At present, there is a lack of cross-border teams for developing assessments. They propose setting minimum requirements for the internationality of the evaluation teams in tenders for large programs. Member states’ assessments should also be subject to monitoring by experts from other member states.

Questions can be directed to: 
Prof. Clemens Fuest, 0049 / 89 / 9224-1430;
Dr. Friedrich Heinemann, 0049 / 621 / 1235-149;