Analysing the Value for Money of EU Programme Funding in the Field of Democracy and Rule of Law

European union flag against parliament in Brussels


An analytical study on the value for money of EU programmes that support democracy, the rule of law and human rights found that most have clear objectives and mechanisms for allocating resources and reporting where money was spent. However, more could be done to measure the impact and ongoing improvements following the programmes.


Democracy, the rule of law, and human rights are core values the EU aims to promote. To address this, the European Commission has established a number of programmes to support democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Key programmes include the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control commissioned RAND Europe to conduct an analytical study to explore the Value for Money (VfM) of these programmes.


The study focused on assessing if and to what extent processes are in place to help deliver Value for Money (VfM) for EU programme funding in the field of democracy and rule of law. In particular, the study considered the degree of programmes’ coherence, transparency, accountability and effectiveness, as well as examined administrative expenses.


The project team used a variety of methods to conduct this study, including:

  • An examination of documents and previous evaluation/audit results
  • Interviews with EU programme staff
  • An analysis of 10 case study countries, including interviews with EU delegation representatives


  • The study found that the EU programmes on democracy and Rule of Law have clear objectives and there is clarity among those implementing the programme on how they are to be secured (though this could be developed further).
  • Mechanisms for allocating resources are in place. However, it is not clear that there is in place a systematic focus on controlling costs and maximising impacts.
  • The EU has made its commitment to monitoring and evaluation clear, and has set out its expectations on European entities to uphold that. The study found that there are challenges surrounding this, in part due to outcomes and impacts often being inherently difficult to identify, let alone measure. In addition, tracing outcomes back to a specific programme can be particularly difficult in this field.
  • Reporting mechanisms are adequate to meet the needs of accounting for where money was spent and the activities conducted. However, these mechanisms are insufficient for supporting ongoing improvements in VfM.
  • There is a lack of clear accountability and formal processes for capturing lessons learned when designing and improving programmes.
  • Compared with non-EU international programmes the reported administrative costs appear appropriate. The study was unable to identify exactly how ‘indirect costs’ were allocated but noted that, given variations in administrative complexity, there was a surprising uniformity in the proportion of the budget allocated to ‘indirect costs’ (7%).