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CALL FOR ABSTRACTS - What is the role of “Evaluation” for Cohesion Policy?

January 2020, 

CSIL is organising a special session at the 2020 RSA Annual Conference, together with Nicola Francesco Dotti from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

The evaluation of the EU Cohesion Policy and, in general, of regional and urban policies is now a common practice that has attracted an extensive scientific debate focusing on methodologies and theoretical challenges (e.g. Dotti, 2016). While there are extensive evaluation practices, the way their findings enter into the policy cycle is often questioned. Common critiques to this kind of policy evaluations are, among others:

  • it is just an administrative procedure,
  • policy evaluation reports are unable to feed into the political debate,
  • the timing does fit the decision-making cycle.

Within this context, this special session aims to move one step forward in addressing the role of evaluation ‘in’ and ‘for’ the EU Cohesion Policy and, in general, for urban and regional policies in the European context. The focus shifts from evaluation practices as such to the role they play or have played for the EU regional and urban policy, how these practices have contributed improving the decision-making phases and what the critical factors making evaluation studies ‘useful’ for policymakers are.

This theme is articulated along three main blocks:

  1. The ‘historical’ developments of regional and urban policy evaluation, especially referring to the Cohesion Policy, both theoretically and in practice;
  2. The current challenges of evaluation practices, such as emerging methodologies and new data sources (big and open data);
  3. The analysis of how evaluation practices influence (or not) the decision-making processes.

We invite contributions focusing on the above-mentioned themes in the context of the Cohesion Policy. We welcome empirical and conceptual papers showing the influences of policy evaluation on decision-making, both in case of success or failure. If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform.

For any further information, do not hesitate to contact Julie Pellegrin ( or Nicola F. Dotti (