The evaluation of the cross-cutting issues in Horizon 2020 provides a comprehensive, final assessment of the state of play, relevance, efficiency, and effectiveness of cross-cutting issues during the full Horizon 2020 Framework programme period. The study aims to provide suggestions on how to best define, implement and monitor such overarching priorities in future programmes. This study will feed into the overarching ex post evaluation of Horizon 2020 and will inform the implementation of the Horizon Europe financial framework (2021-2027) . Given the diverse set of cross-cutting issues analysed, the study is effectively a synthesis of 12 smaller case studies, each with its own context, data sources, and indicators. The evaluation of each cross-cutting issue builds on a broad set of qualitative and quantitative data such as desk research, interviews with EC officials and beneficiaries, network analysis and data mining exercises.
The following evaluation faced certain limitations. First, it is worth noting that the insights on the results and long-term impact of cross-cutting issues is limited since the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme is still running, and full final project results are not yet available. Second, the study faced major challenges related to data availability, aggregation, and reliability. Some monitoring data covering the entire programme came from various data sources and were difficult to aggregate. Data on patents, publications and open access practices were based on self-reporting by project coordinators and beneficiaries. Data on cross-cutting issues such as Gender equality and SSH have been flagged by project officers. Third, the ambiguous structure of managing cross-cutting issues in DG RTD caused difficulties in getting a broader perspective on the identification, implementation, evaluation, and monitoring of cross-cutting issues for the entire Horizon 2020 period. Lack of cross-cutting issues’ ‘owners’ and insufficient understanding of the definition or scope of cross-cutting issues also caused difficulties. During the interviews with EC officials it was noticed that many interviewees were not familiar with the scope and tracking specifics of cross-cutting issues.