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Ex Post Evaluation of Cohesion Policy Programmes 2014-2020 Financed by the ERDF. Work Package 13 – Integrated Territorial Development

During the 2014-2020 programming period, more than 30% (400 billion) of overall EU budget was dedicated to Cohesion Policy Funding (ERDF, ESF, CF, YEI), with around 220 billion to ERDF. Integrated territorial development was one of the innovative elements of the 2013 reform of Cohesion policy. ITI allows MS to combine funding from different funds, operational programmes of priority axes of these programmes to deliver multi-dimensional and cross-sectoral interventions. The key elements of an ITI are: a designated territory and integrated development strategy – the territory of an ITI can be any geographical area (urban, urban-rural, sub-regional, inter-regional or cross-border), and a package of actions to be implemented.

The uptake of these instruments in the 2014-20 period demonstrates the commitment of local stakeholders to play such a role and emerging studies demonstrate the benefits this offers. At the same time, there are challenges in implementing these instruments and in ensuring their long-term sustainability. There has always been uncertainty on how programme authorities can efficiently and effectively incorporate the territorial dimension in their CP programmes.

The key objectives of Ex-post evaluation of ERDF support to Integrated Territorial Development in the 2014-2020 programming period are as follows:

  • Assess rationale for use of place-based policy instruments
  • Analyse evidence of effectiveness of integrated territorial instruments
  • Study efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU added value
  • Identify factors contributing to success/failure under different conditions

The evaluation challenge for place-based instruments is to identify what works and why in a context of significant contextual variation. Identifying the value of 'integrated' approaches is complex, especially given strong diversity in terms of participants, themes and territories covered. Moreover, the success of territorial instruments should be analysed beyond addressing 'hard' physical indicators. There are 'softer' outcomes, considering other factors such as cohesion within the territory targeted, strengthened trust and social capital among local stakeholders, wellbeing of residents etc.

Evaluation applies Theory-of-Change based approach, integrating multiple data collection and analysis methods, such as analysis of monitoring data (including project-level data), literature review, documentary analysis, survey of programme authorities and territorial stakeholders, case studies, interviews with stakeholders, focus groups and a seminar to present and validate the results of evaluation.