The objective of the evaluation activities is to improve the policy or programme serving as the object of evaluation by supporting future administration of the programme, while also acting as a basis for management decisions and future policies, the development of programmes, and the increasing of institutional capacity.
In the context of structural instruments, the definition of evaluation is the following: “Providing an independent evaluation to the results of policies and programmes that have been financed from the structural instruments based on the needs, the satisfaction of which they were targeted at.” The evaluation is systematic, based on internationally recognised social scientific research standards, the submitted position or opinion is evidence-based and founded on specific criteria (relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability).
Based on their content, evaluations can be divided into the following groups: evaluations of an operational nature with their focus on the functioning of the system, and evaluations of a strategic nature with their focus on providing evaluations concerning the achievement of objectives.
The evaluation is carried out in three stages over the course of the programme:
1. Ex-ante evaluation – For example, the ex-ante evaluation of the 2014–2020 partnership agreement of using the EU instruments and of the operational programme of the CSF Funds. Carried out from the IV quarter of 2012 to the end of 2013.
2. Evaluations carried out during the programme period – For example, interim evaluations in 2009 and 2011, these are generally need-based evaluations of a Member State. For the period of 2014–2020, Article 56 of the Common Provisions Regulation provides that the effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of all priority axes have to be evaluated at least once during the programme period.
3. Ex-post evaluations – Evaluations carried out after the end of the period. These evaluations are carried out by the European Commission in close cooperation with the Member States. The objective of the European Commission is to complete all the ex-post evaluations of 2007–2013 by the end of 2015. The Member States may carry out additional need-based ex-post evaluations in order to determine the effects of support.
The managing authority, implementing authorities and units carry out these evaluations according to needs.
In order to implement outcome-oriented structural instruments during the period of 2014–2020, a strategic evaluation programme has been prepared, covering the entire programme period and enabling to already foresee and collect data that is necessary for later-stage evaluations from the very beginning. The programme for evaluations is approved by the monitoring committee of the operational programme and it also monitors the performance of the schedule. The programme for evaluations is reviewed once a year at a meeting of the monitoring committee.
The schedule for evaluations and the evaluation reports that have already been carried out are published on the website of structural instruments.