Although the Baltic States enjoyed in the mid-2000s an exceptionally rapid economic growth, substantial regional disparities remained within the individual countries. With the current financial and economic crisis, and especially with the risk of structural long-term unemployment the crisis has brought about, regional disparities are set to increase significantly. Therefore, well founded and sufficient action is needed now.

To understand what actions should be taken, we must first understand the impact and effets of what has already taken place. Thus, the objective of the current evaluation is to review the progress of the Programme and to facilitate policy learning among the management of the Estonia – Latvia Programme (ESTLAT) 2007-2013. In any work, positive feedback is definitely very satisfying. Yet, in the learning process, well founded criticism and recommendations for further improvement prove often even more valuable. This is why we have taken in the current evaluation a rather critical view. The sole intention is to offer as much input as possible both for the further fine tuning of the programme, and for the preparation for the next planning period.

There are, besides the Estonia-Latvia Programme, a number of similarly founded supra-national and national programmes operating in the target area of the current programme. Therefore, some of the observations made in relation to the ESTLAT Programme may in fact also prove relevant to other regional development and territorial co-operation programmes operating in the Programme area.

This report is divided into four chapters. In the first chapter, a brief introduction to the Programme is offered and the methodology of the current evaluation is summarised. In chapter two, the programme strategy is assessed against main external and internal factors influencing the implementation of the programme. In chapter three, important aspects of the programme operational management are reviewed. In the final chapter, the results of this evaluation are synthesised and presented according to the primary evaluation questions.