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Counterfactual impact evaluation

Counterfactual impact evaluation provides essential insights into whether policy objectives were met and on the causal effects of policy. These aspects are essential for evaluating effectiveness and efficiency of policy.

CIE in its simplest form

CIE - Counterfactual impact evaluation - is a method of comparison which involves comparing the outcomes of interest of those having benefitted from a policy or programme (the “treated group”) with those of a group similar in all respects to the treatment group (the “comparison/control group”), the only difference being that the comparison/control group has not been exposed to the policy or programme.

The comparison group provides information on “what would have happened to the members subject to the intervention had they not been exposed to it”, the counterfactual case.

The case for counterfactual impact evaluation is based on the need to collect evidence and determine whether policy objectives have been met and, ultimately, whether the resources were used efficiently. These answers feed back into the design and implementation of future interventions and budgetary decisions.


Competence Centre on Microeconomic Evaluation (CC-ME)

The Competence Centre on Microeconomic Evaluation was launched on 19 May 2016. It supports the evaluation function in the European Commission.

Specifically, it:

  • Contributes to better EU regulation and spending through evaluation and data-driven microeconomic analysis of EU policies
  • Provides causal evidence on which policy measures work in different areas including social, industrial and environmental policies
  • Advises EU institutions and Member States on the use of good quality impact evaluations
  • Brings together researchers, policymakers and other experts in the field of impact evaluation
  • Builds capacity among policy makers on impact evaluation.

Head of CC-ME:

Paolo Paruolo
Head of the Competence Centre on Microeconomic Evaluation (CC-ME), which includes the Centre for Research on Impact Evaluation (CRIE).


To find out more about the JRC's work on similar topics, explore the related JRC portfolios: