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What works for whom? Is the right thing being done? Is it being done well? Are there better ways of doing it? Evaluation tackles all these questions as well as how and why results are as they are.

2015 is the International Year of Evaluation and, coincidentally, the 20th anniversary of the EIB’s evaluation function.

If an evaluation function is common for a public body, it is not usual for a bank. That is why an Operations Evaluation (EV) is so special and important at the EIB. 

The Bank celebrated the anniversary milestone with a week of events and information sessions for all EIB staff.  

On Monday 23 November, a public debate on “Why outcomes matter” was hosted at the EIB headquarters in Luxembourg. Three keynote speakers - , Prof. Elliot Stern from Lancaster University, Ms Marjut Santoni, EIB Deputy Secretary General and Nicholas Martyn, Deputy Director-General DG REGIO -  put their ideas on the table for all participants to discuss and react to.

In his introductory remarks, the EIB Vice-President Baranyay highlighted how EV’s role, organisation and practices have adapted to the evolving needs and priorities of the EIB Group, going beyond physical monitoring and gradually turning to measuring “outcomes” as well.

Evaluation is indeed helping the Bank and the Fund to shift from a volume approach and measuring outputs to more focus on outcomes – the results that actually make our work matter to the people of Europe and beyond. “In other words, to strive not only that a bridge be built, but that people spend less time in traffic going from one side of the river to the other”, clarified Ms. Santoni.

Mr Martyn’s intervention further stressed the importance of this shift and provided an insight in his own organisation’s efforts to move in this direction. 

Prof Stern brought in a wider perspective and underlined that the evaluation practice in general has evolved in the past twenty years towards more complex forms of assessment, hence reflecting the more complex reality of public policies. He outlined four main tendencies that defined this evolution and pointed out that for most organisations – and the EIB is no exception - the biggest challenge is to foster a truly genuine evaluation culture.

The basics of evaluation work were explained by EV staff at an engaging two-hour crash course led by Ivory Yong-Protzel, Evaluation Head at the EIB. Her team constantly brings relevant and timely topics to feed the strategic decision-making. It currently counts 14 enthusiastic experts committed to help the Bank demonstrate how it makes a difference to people’s lives.