Evaluations & Fitness Checks

Evaluations and fitness checks are a key component of the EU’s commitment towards evidence-based policy making, reinvigorated by the approval of the Better Regulation Agenda in 2015 and the systematic application of the ‘Evaluate first’ principle by the European Commission. This principle implies that existing policies, legislation and measures should be evaluated objectively before considering any revision or modification.

Starting with an analysis of the current situation for a particular policy or legislation, evaluations and fitness checks are expected to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the effects produced by EU intervention. Conclusions are then drawn on whether it is still “fit for purpose” and continues to be justified, or whether it should be modified. These exercises contribute to the efforts launched by the European Commission to make sure that EU interventions are well designed and deliver tangible and sustainable benefits for citizens, businesses and society.

Milieu has developed significant expertise in carrying out complex evaluations by integrating legal, thematic and methodological knowledge. Building on the principles and methodological tools defined by the Better Regulation Guidelines, our work includes: wide-ranging stakeholder consultation processes; the collection and analysis of a significant volume of qualitative and quantitative information, and the delivery of objective and transparent conclusions. Milieu also works on evaluations of institutions, programmes and projects, adjusting the methodological tools and activities as required.

To facilitate its work, Milieu leads or is part of consortia holding framework contracts covering services related to evaluations for DGs CLIMA, ENV, EMPL, GROW, JUSTICE, HOME, TAXUD as well as the European Parliament.

Some examples of Milieu’s work in this field are:

European Commission, DG Environment, Study supporting the Fitness check of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directives (2008/50/EC, 2004/107/EC)

Poor air quality is a major environmental and socio-economic concern that poses significant risks to human health. To minimise the negative impacts of air pollution, the European Union adopted Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe and Directive 2004/107/EC relating to arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air (hereinafter: AAQ Directives). The overarching objective of the AAQ Directives is to improve air quality, minimising the harmful effects on health and the environment.

The study assessed the implementation (including successes and challenges) of the AAQ Directives across all 28 EU Member States in the period 2008 to 2018. The objective was to provide evidence of whether the two Directives remained fit for purpose. Milieu was a key member of the consortium carrying out the study, led by COWI. Milieu provided substantial contributions to all study tasks and led the analysis of the coherence of the AAQ Directives with the overall EU policy framework. Milieu also prepared three of the eight case studies. In addition, we played a key role in the consultation, supporting the open public consultation and the targeted questionnaire, as well as stakeholder meetings.

European Commission, DG Environment, Study to support the REFIT evaluation of Directive 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment (SEA Directive)

Environmental protection and sustainable development are key considerations in the definition and implementation of EU policies and activities, enshrined in the Treaties. According to the SEA Directive, public authorities must assess the environmental impacts of plans and programmes which are likely to have significant environmental effects, before their adoption or submission to a legislative procedure. In addition, the Directive provides for public participation and information and was expected to increase the transparency of planning processes and strategic decisions, as well as social acceptance. The evaluation study supported the REFIT evaluation of the SEA Directive.

Led by Milieu, the study assessed the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and added value of the SEA Directive by providing evidence-based analysis on how the legislation has performed since the date of its application (21 July 2004), the extent to which the objectives have been reached/not reached and the reasons for this, the costs and benefits of the Directive, and the administrative burden caused by the Directive. The study’s conclusions included suggestions for better implementation, including possible Commission interpretive guidance on application of the procedure, to certain types of plans and programmes.

European Commission, DG Home, Mid-term evaluation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration strategies up to 2020

The Roma minority in the European Union is estimated to be around 10 to 12 million people, many of whom suffer discrimination on the grounds of racial and ethnic origin. This results in higher poverty levels, lower educational achievements, labour market barriers, housing segregation and poor health. In line with the goals of the Decade of Roma Inclusion (2005-2010) , the European Commission launched a 2011 Communication on an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) up to 2020, following the European Parliament’s Resolution of 9 March 2011 on the EU strategy on Roma inclusion (2010/2276(INI)). Through this Communication, the Commission encouraged the EU institutions to endorse the proposed EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies in order to reinforce the EU policy on equality by setting goals for Roma integration to be achieved at local, regional and national level.

In cooperation with ICF Consultancy, Milieu conducted the mid-term evaluation of effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence and added-value of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020. This involved providing recommendations for possible directions for EU-action in the post-2020 period. The evaluation targeted European and national policies, legal and funding instruments in all EU Member States (except for Malta), and focused on the Roma needs in four crucial areas: access to education, access to employment, access to healthcare, access to housing and essential services. Based on the study, the Commission will revise its approach to implementation of the strategy going forward.
The final report is available here.

European Commission, DG Environment, Study to support the Evaluation of the European Environment Agency and its EIONET network

Created in 1990, the European Environment Agency’s mission is to support sustainable development and environmental action through the provision of reliable information to the European Commission, Member Countries and the public. EEA works closely with the EIONET, a network of topic centres and national data centres across the member countries. Evaluations of the EEA and EIONET are programmed to take place every five years. This study supported the European Commission in its evaluation of the Agency’s activities in the period from mid-2012 to end-2016. The study evaluated the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU value-added of the EEA and EIONET, analysing information gathered via quantitative and qualitative desk research, interviews, stakeholder surveys and public consultation.

Milieu was a key member of the consortium carrying out the study, led by COWI. In addition to case study and other work, Milieu led the assessment of coherence: in the context of an EU Agency, this criterion looked in particular at the synergies, overlaps and potential gaps between EEA’s work and that of Commission services, other EU agencies and Member States’ bodies. The evaluation feeds into the ongoing monitoring and review of the agency and recommendations will be considered.

The final report is available here and was used by the European Commission to prepare its evaluation of the EEA.