Brussels, 17 July 2008
Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, will today call for new ways to show the results of Cohesion Policy. She will address a conference in Warsaw entitled 'European Cohesion Policy as a factor in Growth and Convergence', at which the Polish Ministry of Regional Development will present a report on the impact of Cohesion Policy on Poland's economy.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Commissioner Hübner said: "I am convinced of the need to demonstrate more clearly the performance, value-added and results of Cohesion Policy. I call on Member States to become more involved, and to take more responsibility for carrying out evaluations. Poland, as the biggest beneficiary of Cohesion policy in 2007-2013, sends an important signal today by recognising its responsibility in terms of providing evidence on the impact of the policy. This will also help to design the outlines of future policy."
It is estimated that Cohesion Policy will have a significant effect in boosting GDP and employment over the current programming period and beyond. By 2015, it could create up to 2 million jobs in the EU12 and Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland. GDP gains should vary from 2.5% in Slovenia to 9% in the Czech Republic. But the impact of Cohesion Policy is not only about growth and jobs: fundamentally, it is about improving the quality of life of EU citizens and evaluation is crucial to can help demonstrate these impacts.
Why is evaluation necessary?
Evaluation is important in terms of accountability for the use of resources and visibility of the policy. It is crucial to show to European citizens how Cohesion Policy makes a difference and what is achieved with EU investment. Evaluation generates knowledge and evidence on these achievements. Evaluation also improves the effectiveness and impact of the policy by learning what works, and what does not. A recent OECD economic survey of the European Union said: “The Community could achieve more with its regional budget if it were more performance-based.".
New approach to evaluations for 2007-2013
For 2007-2013, there are three types of evaluation: before (ex ante), during and after (ex post) the programming period. Evaluation of Cohesion Policy is undertaken on a partnership basis, with Member States responsible for ex ante evaluation and the European Commission for ex post evaluation. Both Member States and the European Commission are responsible for evaluation to be carried out during the programming period.
A new, more strategic and needs-driven approach has been introduced for evaluation to be carried out during the programming period. Current evaluation methods are mostly based on analysis of monitoring data, complemented by interviews, surveys and case studies. It is often not easy to distinguish the impact of the policy from the impact of other variables. The idea now is to introduce more rigorous evaluation methods where appropriate, involving either control groups or statistical techniques to establish a "non-cohesion scenario", for example, by looking at the performance of supported and non-supported enterprises.
Impact of Cohesion Policy
Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal - the largest beneficiaries of Cohesion Policy in recent years - have achieved significant growth. Between 1995 and 2005, Greece, for example, reduced the gap with the rest of EU27, moving from 74% to reach 88% of the EU average GDP per head. In terms of employment, it is estimated that Objective 1 investment has created around 570,000 net jobs in 2000-2006 of which some 160,000 were in the EU10.
The real achievements beneath these headline figures are being evaluated in depth through the ex post evaluation of the 2000-2006 period which is now underway. This will provide further evidence on the impact of Cohesion Policy in different sectors, e.g., enterprise support and innovation, transport, environment, structural change, etc.
In Poland, it is estimated that Cohesion Policy has had a positive impact on output (adding about 0.56% to GDP level in 2006) and employment (about 54,000 additional jobs in 2006).
These positive developments will continue in 2007-2013.
It is estimated that Cohesion Policy will have a significant effect in boosting GDP and employment over the current programming period and beyond. By 2015, it could create up to 2 million additional jobs in the EU12 and Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland. GDP gains should vary from 2.5% in Slovenia to 9% in the Czech Republic.
In Poland, it is forecast that through cohesion funding the level of total investment will be 20% and of GDP 6% higher than in the non-cohesion scenario. The level of employment and productivity will increase by 3% each and the unemployment rate decline by 2.6 percentage points.
Poland is the biggest beneficiary under Cohesion policy in 2007-2013, and will receive EU investment worth €67.3 billion, that is, 19.4% of the € 347.4 billion allocation for the whole of the EU.
Chapter 2 of the 4th Cohesion Report also offers an analysis of the policy impact: