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Cohesion Policy 2000-2006: what has been achieved?


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Evaluating the results of cohesion policy investment in Europe's regions is critical to its success. Evaluations increase transparency and accountability and help to ensure the best use of public funds.

Following the programming period 2000-2006, the European Commission launched a series of ex-post evaluations looking at the 230 programmes supported by the policy during that time. These evaluations focus on two funds: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF).

On 19 April 2010 the Commission presented a synthesis report which wraps up the main findings of the ERDF evaluation. The report shows that € 123 billion invested through the ERDF between 2000 and 2006, has had a significant impact on the regions across the EU.

Summary of the debate en

Key achievements include:

  • 1.4 million jobs created
  • 2 000 km of motorway constructed
  • 4 000 km of rail
  • 14 million people gained access to cleaner water
  • 38 000 research projects supported
  • Over 800,000 SMEs supported

Results and recommendations from this report will be discussed by the Commission, Member States, regions and other stakeholders, and feed into the debate on the future of the policy. The final results for the Cohesion Fund evaluation will be published in 2011.

More impact and results

Background Information

First results from the ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy presented at the European Parliament REGI Committee

The European Commission presented the results from four evaluations at the REGI Committee on November 3rd. Members of the European Parliament asked questions and debated the presented findings from evaluations on Management and Implementation, Gender and demography, ERDF in rural development and Unit cost of major projects. A key emerging message from all studies is the need to strengthen the strategic focus of the policy, to concentrate resources and to focus more on results rather than on spending. More reflection is needed at the programming stage in order to focus better on results. The Commission was invited to propose possible solutions to correct this for the next programming period. Some parliamentarians confirmed the need to define urban/rural areas at national level.  Others argued that gender equality should be kept as a horizontal priority but more efforts are needed to ensure that it is not purely a formality. The ex post evaluation of Objective 1 and 2 for 2000-2006 is based on a thematic approach: 14 inter-linked studies on different aspects of the policy. A synthesis report with results from all themes will be published in early 2010. More information

Presentations at OPEN DAYS 2009 on findings from ex post evaluations in transport, environment and URBAN programmes

Emerging evidence from three ex post evaluation studies was presented and discussed at the seventh edition of the OPEN DAYS. Insights on results and impacts from URBAN II and Urbact were discussed - along with sustainability after the programme ends. What did cohesion policy support in the fields of environment and transport and what were the effects? You can find out more about lessons learned, fields of intervention, good examples and challenges in the presentations below:

Ex-post evaluation 2000-06: How can URBAN make a difference?, Karl Jasper pdf

Evaluation of the URBAN II and Urbact programmes: presentation of the findings to date, Ecotec-Ecorys, 07/10/2009 ppt

Is building environment infrastructure supporting growth in Europe? Mary van Overbeke, ADE, 07/10/2009 ppt

Ex-post evaluation 2000-06: Does Europe need new roads? Francesco Dionori, Steer Davies Gleave ppt

Hearing on first findings of ex-post evaluation of Objectives 1 and 2 - (23 June 2009)

The first results of the evaluation of Cohesion Policy between 2000 and 2009 are now available and this Hearing brought together the evaluators, Member States representatives and academics to debate the findings. This is the start of a series of discussions and debates on the performance of the policy which will continue in the second half of 2009 and throughout 2010 and 2011. The discussions will be based on evidence from evaluations on the effects of the programmes supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund and the Instrument for Pre-Accession.

This Hearing was focused on three evaluations: on the management and implementation of Cohesion Policy programmes, the unit costs of the biggest infrastructure projects, and the possibilities for the ERDF to support regions in adapting to demographic change. Some questions to reflect on:

  • How can Member States and regions balance the need to spend the resources of Cohesion Policy correctly and ensure that the impact of that expenditure is maximised?
  • How can good performance be incentivised - and are there disincentives in how the policy is structured?
  • How can we make sure that the ERDF tackles the real challenges facing regions, such as demographic change?

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Agenda pdf en

10h00 : Opening

  • Welcome by moderator, Jacki Davis
  • Introduction by Commissioner Danuta Hübner pdf en

10h30 – 12h30 : WP 11 - Management and implementation

  1. Daniel Tarschys, University of Stockholm: New public management – what does it mean for cohesion policy?
  2. John Bachtler, European Policies Research Centre, Glasgow (evaluator): Can differentiated requirements for different Member States be defended? pdf en

Discussion :  

  • Piotr Zuber, PL, Ministry of Regional Development
  • Roland Arbter, AT, Bundeskanzleramt
  • Danielle Bossaert, European Institute for Public Administration

4h00 – 15h15  : WP 10 – Major projects as a special case of project management between Member States and Commission

  1. Bent Flyvbjerg, Oxford University: Why do major projects exceed timetables and cost estimates? Project class forecasting as a new method.
  2. Hugh Kelly, RGL Forensics, London (evaluator): Unit costs of major projects – data, use and right incentives.


  • Adam Kullmann, HU, National Development Agency
  • Anthony Dernellis, GR, Ministry of Economy and Finance pdf en
  • Gines de Rus, ES, University of the Canary Islands pdf en

5h15 – 16h15 : WP 7 - The demographic challenge

  1. Charlotte Höhn: The demographic challenge – and what public politics can (not) do about it. pdf en
  2. Manuela Samek Lodovici, Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale, Milano (evaluator): Findings and recommendations of the evaluation. pdf en

Discussion :

  • Holger Keune, DE, Saxony State Chancellery
  • Ian Kernohan, UK, Scottish Government International Division pdf en
  • Tony Warnes, Sheffield University

16h15 – 16h30  :  Conclusions

Dirk Ahner, Director-General, DG REGIO pdf en





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