Guidance and methodological resources

Evaluating EU cohesion policy

Performance, monitoring and evaluation of the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the Just Transition Fund in 2021-2027- Staff Working Document SWD(2021)198

The document is intended primarily for national and regional programme authorities. It illustrates how the new rule book provides for a systematic approach to performance and sets out the context in which the common output and result indicators in the fund regulations will be used. The descriptions of the common output and result indicators are annexed to the working document in order to guide the programmes in the use, collection and reporting of reliable performance monitoring data. The indicator targets will be made public on the Cohesion Open Data platform in 2022, after the adoption of the first wave of programmes.

Performance, monitoring and evaluation

ERDF/CF/JTF Common Indicators

Cohesion policy categorisation system

November 2020: Ad Hoc seminar on GHG methodologies 2021-2027 with EIB

Agenda pdf en

January 2020: Ad Hoc seminar Transport result indicators 2021-2027 with JASPERS

Agenda pdf en

  • JASPERS-EIB: Methodological support for ERDF and Cohesion Fund result indicators in the field of transport post 2020pdf en
  • DG REGIO: 2021-2027 Common result indicators for transportpdf en
  • JASPERS-EIB: Indicators - RCR55 Passenger-kmpdf en
  • JASPERS-EIB: Indicators - RCR56 Passenger-hourspdf en
  • JASPERS-EIB: Indicators - RCR64 Cyclingpdf en
  • JASPERS-EIB: Indicators - RCR60 Freight on Waterwayspdf en
  • JASPERS-EIB: Indicators - RCR58 Rail Passenger-kmpdf en
  • JASPERS-EIB: Indicators - RCR101 Rail Passenger hourspdf en
  • JASPERS-EIB: Indicators - RCR59 Rail Freightpdf en

The European Commission has suggested a more results – oriented approach for EU cohesion funding in its legislative proposals for 2014 - 2020.

  • Guidance document on evaluation plans pdf en
  • Concepts and recommendations (revised 2018) pdf en
  • Additional documents
    • Result Indicator Pilot Report pdf en
    • Task force on outcome indicators – prepared by a team of academics and experts to inform the reflexions on future cohesion policy :
      • Outcome Indicators and targets – Towards a Performance oriented EU Cohesion Policy (Fabrizio Barca, Philip McCann) pdf en
      • Meeting climate change and energy objectives pdf en
      • Improving the conditions for innovation, research and development pdf en
      • Guidance for the Design of Quantitative Survey-Based Evaluation pdf en
      • Guidance for the design of qualitative case study evaluation pdf en
      • Good practices in the selection and use of outcome indicators pdf en
      • Experience of the 2007-2013 Italian Performance Reserve (PR) – measurable objective for public services provision in Mezzorgiorno pdf en
  • Guide on ex-ante evaluation pdf de en fr
  • Guidance on the performance framework review and reserve in 2014-2020 en pdf
  • Guidance on evaluation of innovation de en es fr pl pdf
  • Guidance for the Terms of Reference for Impact Evaluations en pdf
  • Standardised key terminology pdf en
  • Approach paper on the common methodology for the evaluation of SMEi in the Member States pdf en
  • Support to SME initiative evaluation in the Member States pdf en

In any programme, the crucial questions are "what do you want to change?" and "how would you know if you have changed it?" These evaluation questions are not just bureaucratic requirements, but the essence of good programming. Impact evaluation mobilises scientific and statistical tools to follow up on these questions.

Impact evaluation in DG Regional Policy falls into two broad categories:

  • The "Theory-based" impact approach, which follows each step of the intervention logic and focuses on the mechanisms leading to the observed change, is particularly appropriate for answering the questions "why?" and "how?" and "in what context?" an intervention works.
  • The counterfactual impact approach , i.e. the use of control or comparison groups, is particularly useful in answering "how much?" of the change is due to the intervention and comparing the effects of different instruments (or the same instrument applied to different target groups).

The two approaches are complementary and the most useful impact evaluations draw on a mix of methods: counterfactual methods to quantitatively estimate an impact, theory-based methods to understand the underlying mechanisms and the context of an intervention thus helping to modify or generalize it to other contexts.

Conterfactual approach

Theory-based approach

For further information, support or training opportunities, please contact

Working Documents on evaluation

  • Working Document No 1: Indicative Guidelines on Evaluation Methods: Ex-Ante Evaluation pdf deenfr
  • Working Document No 2: Indicative Guidelines on Evaluation Methods: Monitoring and Evaluation Indicators pdf deenfr
  • Working Document No 3: Commission Methodological Paper giving guidelines on the calculation of public or equivalent structural spending for the purpose of additionality pdf deenfr
  • Working Document No 4: Guidance on the Methodology for carrying out Cost-Benefit Analysis: pdf bg csdadeelenesetfifrhuitlt lvnlmtplptro sk slsv
  • Working Document No 5: Indicative Guidelines on Evaluation Methods : Evaluation during the Programming Period pdf deenfr
  • Working document No 7: "Reporting on core indicators for ERDF and Cohesion Fund"pdf de en fr

Other supportive documents

  • Analysis of Errors in Cohesion Policy for the years 2006-2009 - Actions taken by the Commission and the way forward pdf en
  • Regions 2020: An Assessment of Future Challenges for EU Regions - November 2008 pdf deenfr
  • Fostering the urban dimension: Analysis of the Operational Programmes co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (2007-2013) - November 2008 pdf deenfr
  • Innovation in the national strategic reference frameworks (working document) - October 2006 pdf en
  • The Smart Guide to Innovation Based Incubators (IBI) - February 2010 pdf en - 20 Case studies pdf en
    Innovative strategies and actions: Results from 15 Years of Regional Experimentation pdf deenfr
  • EVALSED: The updated guide for the evaluation of Socio-Economic Development pdf en
  • Handbook on SEA (Strategic Environmental Assesment) for Cohesion Policy 2007-2013: pdf en
  • Checklist Water and Waste Major projects (20/11/09) pdf en

Guidance documents 2000-2006

Working Documents:

Other Guidance Documents:

  • Vademecum for URBAN II Programmes
  • Application of the “n+2” rule pdf en
    2002: pdf dadeelenesfifritnlptsv (~ 35KB)
    2003 : pdf deenfr
  • Guidelines on Criteria and Modalities of Implementation of Structural Funds in Support of Electronic Communications pdf deenfr

Guidance Documents 1994-1999

  • Technical assistance
  • COMMISSION WORKING DOCUMENT (February 2004)- Application of Article 151(4) of the EC Treaty: use of the Structural Funds in the field of culture during the period 1994-1999 pdf en (75KB) - pdf fr (75KB) + annexe pdf fr (1,5MB)
  • Understanding and Monitoring the Cost-Determining Factors of Infrastructure Projects (April 1998)
    pdf deelenesfritpt (110KB)
  • Measuring Job Creation – Methods for the Evaluation of the Employment Effects of Structural Fund Interventions (January 1997)
    pdf deenfr (scanned version 600KB)
  • Guide to Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investment Projects for Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 pdf en
  • Guide to cost-benefit analysis of investment projects Published by DG Regional Policy in 2008 pdf en

Evaluating socio-economic development

Evalsed – the Guide and the Sourcebook on Methods and Techniques were updated in September 2013. The new versions take account of the Commission's latest Guidance documents for the 2014-2020 funding period and in particular the Working Paper on Concepts and Recommendations. The Sourcebook has major new sections on Impact Evaluation – Counterfactual and Theory Based – and out of date material has been deleted.

  • EVALSED :The resource for the evaluation of Socio-Economic Development - Evaluation guide pdf en - docm en
  • Evalsed Sourcebook: Method and techniques pdf en - docm en