The Commission is committed to evaluate in a proportionate way all EU spending and non-spending activities intended to have an impact on society or the economy. Evaluations gather evidence to assess how well a specific intervention has performed (or is working) and draw conclusions on whether the EU intervention continues to be justified or should be modified.
By evaluating, the Commission takes a critical look at whether EU activities are fit for purpose and deliver, at minimum cost, the desired changes to European businesses and citizens and contribute to the EU's global role.
The Commission applies the "Evaluate First" principle to make sure any policy decisions take into due account the lessons from past EU action. Thus for instance, lessons learned from evaluation should be available and feed into IA work from the very beginning.
Evaluations are thus an essential part of the decision-making process. They are required under the Financial Regulation , the legal basis of interventions (e.g. review clauses) and indicated by Council Regulation (EU) 2015/323 applicable to the 11th EDF.
All evaluations should be of high quality and respect the principles outlined in the latest Better Regulation Guidelines.
The Better Regulation Guidelines published in 2015 cover the whole of the policy cycle from initiation to evaluation. The toolbox accompanying the new guidelines provides complementary guidance on specific elements.
Traditionally, Commission evaluations have been conducted on individual interventions, but the increased focus on the performance has led to the creation of a new type of evaluation – the Fitness checks .
A Fitness Check is a comprehensive evaluation of a policy area that usually addresses how several related legislative acts have contributed (or otherwise) to the attainment of policy objectives. Fitness checks are particularly well-suited to identify overlaps, inconsistencies synergies and the cumulative impacts of regulation.
Given their focus, evaluations and Fitness Checks are particularly important in the context of the tools that are used to implement the Commission's REFIT : a rolling programme to keep the entire stock of EU legislation under review and ensure that it is 'fit for purpose', that regulatory burdens are minimised and that all simplification options are identified and applied.
The Regulatory Scrutiny Board provides a central quality control and support function for Commission impact assessment and evaluation work. It was set up on 1 July 2015 and replaced the Impact Assessment Board. The Board examines and issues opinions on all the Commission's draft impact assessments and of major evaluations and "fitness checks" of existing legislation.