Development evaluation and the European project
The presentation focuses on the development evaluation experience and its relevance to investment planning in Europe. Both the development idea and the European project emerged out of the ashes of World War II when the victorious allies sought to turn swords into ploughshares. The new evaluation discipline that came into being at the same time embodied the ‘can do’ attitudes of policy makers who looked to the social sciences to generate the knowledge and the tools needed (i) to reconstruct the nations devastated by war; and (ii) to bring prosperity to the poverty stricken regions of the world. In these early years, cost benefit analysis admirably met the requirements of public investment planning since it embodied the prevailing model of economic recovery and growth that conceived of investment projects as the building blocks of national development plans. Development thinking has evolved considerably since this pioneering phase. The current consensus reflects three basic propositions: (i) macroeconomic as well as sector policies matter; (ii) the institutional context within which projects are embedded is critical to their success; and (iii) the interconnectedness of national economies has fundamental consequences for the design of development policies and programs. Given the Lisbon agenda, the very same considerations should inform the design of European Structural Funds programs. The methods used to design and evaluate the Structural Funds should give appropriate weight to the institutional and policy context of member countries in order to promote creativity and innovation in the European space. In particular, incentives should be crafted to encourage capacity building and policy adjustment. Only then will the Structural Funds contribute to the sound and efficient infrastructure investments that the enlarged Europe needs to remain competitive on the world stage
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