Commissioned by the Ministry of Finance, the Institute of Baltics Studies (IBS) conducted the mid-term evaluation for the European Union Operational Programme for Cohesion Policy Funding 2014-2020 in collaboration with the Technopolis Group, Ernst & Young Baltic and Praxis.

The evaluation covered all the 14. prioritized directions of the operational programme. The mid-term evaluation assessed the operational programme and its relevance, effectivity, impact and sustainability.

The Operational Programme has had a significant impact on the achievement of Estonia’s most important strategic objectives. Its contribution has been greatest in the achieving of strategies that are directly connected to the Operational Programme – Estonia 2020, Europe 2020, and the Baltic Sea Strategy – and of objectives related to sustainable development.

The study concluded, that the balance of regional development remains a major challenge. Outside of Harju and Tartu counties, the challenges are stalled structural change in business and the low creation of alternative employment, as well as a lack of investment and the resulting emigration of the last 25 years, which has cumulatively reduced the volume and availability of services and employment.

Supporting regional development is more effective when entrepreneurship, infrastructure, and living environment investments constitute a logical whole and if local governments have the opportunity and ability to participate in shaping policy and leading development processes.

The mid-term evaluation concluded that the sectoral objectives and actions of the Operational Program are still relevant today – there is no need for major changes to meet the objectives of the Operational Program.