According to Article 25 of Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 laying down the statute for executive agencies (EAs), an external evaluation on the operation of each agency must be carried out every three years, and must include a cost-benefit analysis (CBA). In addition, in line with Article 12 of Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/173, the Consumer, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA), the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), the European Research Executive Agency (REA), the former European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA), the European Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) must be evaluated in a coordinated manner.
This project consisted of six individual evaluations, one for each EA, and followed a common evaluation methodology. A mixed-method approach was used during the evaluation process. The qualitative methodological approach was based on documentary review and desk research, qualitative CBA and a stakeholder consultation, which included two surveys and an extensive interview programme for each executive agency:
- Survey A involved beneficiaries and unsuccessful applicants of the programmes managed by each executive agency. In total, around 9000 responses were received across all six agencies.
- Survey B involved external experts contracted by each executive agency. In total, almost 7000 responses were received across all six agencies.
- Interview programme involved European Commission officials, the directorate of each executive agency, heads of sector and heads of unit, staff of the executive agencies, beneficiaries and unsuccessful applicants of the programmes managed by the agencies, external experts contracted. In total, around 270 interviewees were consulted.
The quantitative methodological approach was based on administrative and monitoring data, surveys, and quantitative cost-benefit analysis. These methodological approaches to mixing methods were treated as complementary.
The key outputs of the study were six evaluation reports, which provided specific conclusions and policy recommendations for each of the agency, horizontal conclusions and recommendations that were applicable to more than one agency, as well as comparative analysis across all six executive agencies.
New evaluation knowledge created during the project will inform internal decision-making within executive agencies and their parent Directorates-General (DGs) regarding possible improvements to the implementation of the legacy programmes and of the next generation of programmes from the Commission. Furthermore, the results of this evaluation will be useful for accountability purposes. The final evaluation reports on the performance of the six EAs will allow the Commission to report the results of the retrospective CBA to the budgetary authority, while informing various European Union (EU) institutions on the value of the cost savings achieved as a result of the executive agency scenario compared with the costs of in-house management by the Commission, as well as identifying potential areas for improvement. The results of this evaluation will be communicated to the Steering Committees of the six current EAs, to the European Parliament, to the Council and to the European Court of Auditors (ECA).