Lessons from other networks
European Evaluation Network for Rural Development
In December 2012, the European Evaluation Network for Rural Development invited 10 stakeholders to give their views on the added value / main achievements of the network, as well as to reflect on how to innovate or improve the network in future.
Lessons learnt from what has worked well and what has worked less well
- “The Evaluation Network has managed to create a structured exchange with the European Commission. While in official expert meetings there is a hierarchical approach, in the meetings organised by the Evaluation Helpdesk there is an exchange between Member States and the Commission on equal terms”.
- “The primary benefit of the Evaluation Expert Network lies in the forum it provides for communication and discussion of rural evaluation and related issues. I think it has been extremely important in enabling evaluation to be addressed proactively and in a better planned and more consistent way”.
- “I find the annual focus groups valuable in extending the reach of the evaluation networking activity within the Member States, which always welcome the opportunity to come together and discuss evaluation matters with their peers. It links theory and practice and helps evaluation to be addressed in a positive manner”.
- “There are many achievements but so far, the biggest one in my opinion is the good preparatory work and overall guidance for the mid-term evaluation and subsequently the methodological assessment of Mid-Term Evaluation Reports for the 2007-2013 RDPs, which provided added value for all parties concerned. For evaluators and managing authorities it was a good opportunity to compare evaluation methods, practices and outcomes, and to benefit from some transfer of know-how”.
- “Sometimes the guidance produced cannot be implemented in the Member States”.
- “The draft guidelines for the ex-ante evaluation of 2014-2020 RDPs are, in my opinion, very useful for the managing authorities and the evaluators. We were happy to receive these guidelines at the right time. However, I believe that the Member States should be asked how they consider evaluation and how the recommendations proposed can be used efficiently”.
- “Good practice workshops are an intelligent mix of knowledge transfer and exchange at all levels. It is also a great opportunity to get to know the individuals who are involved in the evaluation process and to understand their expectations, constraints and frustrations and to work on common relevant solutions”.
- “The existence of the Evaluation Helpdesk and its pool of national experts make them easily accessible when evaluators want to ask for advice on any rural development evaluation related issues”.
Future challenges for evaluation-related networking
- “I believe that more “capacity building” events could be organised in the future, where specific issues are addressed”.
- “In the future, I would like to see more themed events, where specific issues are addressed. There have been a number of these so far, but I think we could do more in order to strengthen our understanding of evaluating different delivery approaches”.
- “Some improvement could be made in terms of networking with other evaluation expert networks and especially with the ERDF – ESF”.
- “We are currently missing similar monitoring and evaluation networks at national level”.
- “There is a gap in terms of coordination with respect to monitoring and evaluation with the Structural Funds, both at EU and national level”.
- “The preparation for the indicator plan and evaluation plan to be used in the next programming period needs to be better coordinated. The Rural Development Committee and the Evaluation Expert Committee do not always work in tandem and we sometimes notice incoherencies (e.g. indicator plan)”.
- “There should be even more working papers on specific fields of evaluation. They should however be ready at an earlier stage of the evaluation process in order to improve the practical work”.
- “In the future, more meetings should be organized not only to discuss the methods but also the results. The academic world should also be more involved in scientific meetings to exchange experiences”.
The European Evaluation Network for Rural Development (abbreviated to Evaluation Expert Network) provides support for improving the quality and efficiency of evaluation of rural development programmes (RDPs) in Member States of the European Union in the period 2007-2013.
The overall aim of the Evaluation Expert Network is to increase the usefulness of evaluation as a tool for policy design and steering. This aim is broken down into three specific objectives:
- To improve methods and tools in evaluating rural development programmes;
- To increase capacity in implementing rural development evaluation processes;
- To share knowledge in the evaluation of rural development programmes.
Evaluation stakeholders at the level of Member States, as well as at programme level (administrations, evaluators, academics, and stakeholders) are involved in the network’s activities, via seminars, workshops, discussions on thematic studies, and through the dissemination of a newsletter.
The Evaluation Helpdesk (the network support unit) serves as a central information point with regard to the evaluation of RDPs and assists in the establishment and the management of the Evaluation Expert Network. Moreover, the Helpdesk provides expertise and guidance on methodological issues, such as evaluation practices and data collection, and supports the Commission and to the Member States in dealing with evaluation reports.
A dedicated set of technical support services and tools is provided by the Helpdesk. This includes a trilingual website (English, French and German), an electronic newsletter, a question and answer service, a comprehensive glossary of terms, a good practice section and a collection of key literature.