Constant improvement of evaluation practices is essential for the European Commission, particularly in the field of external assistance and development. In addition to being accountable to European taxpayers for the use of public funds, the Commission needs to draw lessons from previous interventions. The European Commission therefore requires credible evaluation methods to guarantee the validity of conclusions and recommendations.
The importance of evaluating both the results of regional and sectoral policies and programmes, and the effectiveness of programming, was reaffirmed within the framework of the reform of external aid management launched in 2000. Evaluation is now essential for the success of external aid policies as a whole and is incorporated into the programming cycle.
Between 2002 and 2005 the common evaluation unit of the Directorates-General EuropeAid, Development and External Relations of the European Commission developed an approach to meet the new evaluation needs defined in 2000. The results of this methodological work are available on the Commission's website and are summarised in four booklets.
These documents are a useful support for better understanding and use of evaluation as implemented within the EuropeAid Cooperation Office. I am pleased to note that the evaluation thus implemented is already considered as a reference among donors.
The approach initiated by the European Commission is available to the public and will be of particular interest to all the actors engaged in public development aid and cooperation with third countries.