The EU Cohesion Policy seeks to strengthen the process of reducing the gap between the poor and the rich regions of the EU. It should reduce social disparities by enhancing employment and social inclusion. To that end, considerable amounts of
money are spent on programmes that are supposed to contribute to the attainment of these policy objectives.
Although the EU Cohesion Policies have been in place for quite some time, the questions remain — up to what degree have those policies been reaching their objectives. How well are the measures working in various EU Member States? In other words, how successful has been the undertaking that involved spending considerable amounts of taxpayers' money
on the Cohesion Policy? This calls for a thorough evaluation of the policy effectiveness.
Over the years, numerous evaluations of the Cohesion Policy have been undertaken both at the level of the European Community and at national levels. However, the majority of those evaluations are still of a rather generic nature, mostly reporting on the levels of spending and on distribution of investments between sectors at a country level — rather than on the effectiveness and effects of the measures put in place in those countries. Moreover, currently, when analysing these evaluations, we do not have at our disposal much more than reports on the results of the programmes. Obtaining information at the project level is difficult, as this information is only available to the Cohesion Fund and through the regional managing authorities.
This report has been prepared with a particular task in mind: to support the officials of the European Network of Environmental Authorities (ENEA) in their efforts to analyse whether the Cohesion Policy investments in the environmental field have been effective in a few selected countries. The analysis is also intended for the attention of the DG Regio in connection with their current in-depth ex-post evaluation activities of the Cohesion Policy programmes. Furthermore, it has been written in support of and as a way of elaborating on the 2006 report on 'the contribution of Structural and Cohesion Funds to a better environment' prepared by the ENEA.