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Policy field(s)

General and Institutional Affairs, Smart Regulation, Evaluation

Target group(s)

All interested citizens, businesses, academics, practitioners, organisations and public authorities are invited to respond to this consultation. Contributions are welcomed, not just on the issues we raise below, but also on any other points relating to how the Commission should go about evaluating EU actions.

Period of consultation

From 12/11/2013 to 25/02/2014

Objective of the consultation

The Commission Guidelines for Evaluation will be used by Commission services when they conduct evaluations of the performance and continued need for existing EU actions (e.g. financial programmes, legislative and policy measures). Evaluation does more than just assess what has happened - it also looks at what caused any change and how much might reasonably be credited to EU action. Evaluation is an integral component of the Commission's Smart Regulation policy, providing an evidence-based critical analysis of whether EU actions are fit for purpose and delivering as expected. Robust evaluations help to identify key learning points which can then be fed back into the decision-making process, leading to actions being dropped or developed and improved. While retrospective evaluation looks at past performance, forward-looking evaluation, or impact assessment, assesses options for future EU action.

The guidelines subject to this consultation only cover 'retrospective evaluation', that is evaluation that looks back to assess the performance so far of existing actions. The main purpose of the guidelines is to strengthen the Commission's evaluation system and ensure high quality evaluations, well-founded in evidence, producing robust conclusions on how well EU actions are delivering results. At the same time, making the process more consistent and transparent should enable stakeholders to contribute better to evaluations and to benefit more from their results.

The Commission wants to make evaluation a simple, clear and open process, providing useful and timely public information on its assessments of the performance of EU actions. It wants evaluations to rely on sound data and clear input from stakeholders. Some aspects of the organisation of evaluation work are rather technical, but the Commission invites anyone interested in how EU actions work to contribute their ideas and suggestions, whatever they are.

The new guidelines will replace those published in 2004 pdf - 6 MB [6 MB] .
The most important suggestions we have identified for consultation concern:

  • Encouraging those who are interested to get involved in evaluation. The draft guidelines propose some standard steps intended to make it easier for anyone interested:
    • to know what is being evaluated and when the evaluation is taking place,
    • to provide their input,
    • to see all consultation results and a summary assessment of them and
    • to understand whether action may follow-on from the evaluation.
  • This would involve the central publication of:
    • A Commission evaluation plan, covering a 5 year period, providing a clear and comprehensive overview of all planned evaluations;
    • Evaluation mandates, published early in the process, outlining for each individual evaluation its intended purpose and scope, the steps in the process and when consultation will take place;
    • The final evaluation report together with an assessment of its overall quality.
  • Improving the coverage and usefulness of evaluation: The draft guidelines seek to improve the strength and consistency of evaluations by:
    • Making sure that all evaluations address key questions on the performance and continued need for EU action. In future all evaluations could contain, as a minimum, analysis of whether the expected effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence and EU added value of the activity is being delivered, or provide good reasons to justify why any of these elements has not been evaluated.
    • Defining the essential requirements for the conduct of an evaluation, distinguishing it from studies or reports containing only some evaluative elements.
    • Ensuring good advance planning and organisation of the collection of relevant data as well as good organisation of consultation of stakeholders and the general public.
    • Improving co-ordination within the Commission, bringing together the different policy makers involved at an early stage and facilitating coherence.
  • These actions should further strengthen the role of evaluation and ensure that inputs are fully utilised in evaluations, improving the evidence base and providing more useful results. In turn, this would fulfil the commitment to "evaluate first" and complete the Smart Regulation cycle – evaluation results would systematically feed into any later impact assessment of policy options where change is envisaged.

View the consultation documents:

Draft Commission Evaluation Guidelines (47 pages): pdf - 835 KB [835 KB]

  • Part I: Explanation of key evaluation concepts
  • Part II: Practical Guidance for Commission officials to conduct an evaluation
  • Annex I: Evaluation standards pdf - 43 KB [43 KB]


These Guidelines are intended for internal use by the Commission services, providing an introduction to evaluation. More detailed supporting information will be provided over time on our internal websites and by evaluation specialists in the Directorates General.

We would like to hear all views and comments on how EU actions should be evaluated. Without wishing to limit the process, we ask the following questions:

  1. Have you participated in evaluations of EU actions? With your experience in mind, do you think that by working according to these guidelines the Commission will generate useful results?
  2. Will published forward planning, evaluation mandates and final reports together with assessments of their quality make it easier for you to follow the process and get involved in evaluation, or do you suggest other possibilities?
  3. When do you think stakeholder input is particularly useful in the process? How much advance notice do you need to prepare your input?
  4. Where and how is it best to publish the evaluation results so that they reach the widest possible public? How important is it for you to know what follow-up action is planned?
  5. Do you think that the guidelines cover all relevant issues? Tell us about anything we have not covered well enough.
  6. Are you aware of ‘good practice’ elsewhere that could motivate other improvements?

We encourage you to send in your comments and suggestions on any aspect of the Commission guidelines and evaluation policy and practice.

How to submit your answers

You are invited to respond to this consultation in any official EU language. Given the possible delays in translating comments submitted in certain languages, translations of the replies into one of the Commission's working languages (preferably English) would be welcome to enable the Commission to process them more swiftly.

You can submit your contributions in two ways:

  1. Sending or e-mailing your response to the addresses provided below

    This is often the most convenient way for stakeholders. If you provide your answer in paper copy or in PDF format, we would invite you to also submit an electronic Word version so that the Commission can analyse and process your contribution more easily.


  2. Copying your answer into the electronic questionnaire provided here (this allows easy analysis and processing of all contributions by the Commission)

Reference documents

  • Communication of 2 October 2013 on 'EU Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT): Results and next steps' COM(2013)685
  • Communication of 2 October 2013 on 'Strengthening the foundations of Smart Regulation – improving evaluation' COM(2013)686 pdf - 121 KB [121 KB] български (bg) čeština (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti keel (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) français (fr) hrvatski (hr) italiano (it) latviešu valoda (lv) lietuvių kalba (lt) magyar (hu) Malti (mt) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv)
  • 'Evaluating EU activities pdf - 6 MB [6 MB] – A practical guide to the Commission services'

In the interests of transparency, organisations have been invited to provide the public with relevant information about themselves by registering in the Interest Representative Register and subscribing to its Code of Conduct.

Results of the consultation and next steps

The Commission thanks all participants who took part in its public consultation.

The main findings of the public consultation pdf - 364 KB [364 KB] are now available.

Number of responses received to this consultation - 53

View the contributions

The follow-up on the results of the public consultation and future steps in the development of the evaluation policy of the Commission are in preparation.