Evaluation policy for EU external action
As one of the world’s largest donors, the EU is a global leading force in demonstrating the value of rigorous evaluation. Evaluations support decision-making and contribute to strategic planning and the design of future interventions. Additionally, the importance of demonstrating our results and learning from experience is more important than ever in an increasingly complex and challenging environment for international partnerships.
Evaluations assess the achievements of EU external action with regards to EU priorities for international partnerships (Green Deal, innovation and digital, sustainable growth and jobs, migration, as well as human development, peace and governance). In doing so, they also assess the impact of EU external action towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The evaluation policy for EU external action is set out in the document, ‘Evaluation matters’ (PDF).
Evaluations in the EU context
Evaluation is a key learning tool for the European Union. The EU is committed to the ‘evaluation first’ principle, to make sure any policy decision takes account of lessons learned from past EU actions. Evaluations help the European Commission learn about the functioning of EU interventions and assess their performance against initial expectations. They provide independent, objective judgment based on robust evidence. An evaluation goes beyond the assessment of what has happened, as it also considers why it has happened (the role of the EU intervention) and how much EU actions contribute to positive change. As a result, evaluations produce evidence which is used to improve the way the EU engages with its partners to enhance the impact of those partnerships.
An obligation to evaluate EU actions is included in Article 318 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and the EU Treaties contain further sector-specific evaluation requirements.
See the Better Regulation Guidelines for more information.