The methodological approach

AuthorNaldini, Andrea; Pompili, Marco; Peruccacci, Eleonora
Section 2.The methodological approach
This section illustr ates t he proposed met hodological approach. The descript iv e nat ur e
of the study favo urs the adoption of a very practical an d direct met hodology.
2.1 .App roa ch to t he stu dy
The study has a descr iptive natur e (‘fact-find ing study’) because it has t o provide
adequate in formation on h ow State aid evaluation works in t he different countr ies, the
influence of the national regulations, the evaluation capacity available and t he
operational arrangem ents put in place. These element s are rar ely analysed in t he 28
count ries and are also still largely unexplored in t he m ore t raditional field of the ESIF
evaluation . Con sequ ent ly, t he colle ctio n o f t arg ete d, upda ted an d ad equa te inf orm at ion
fr om all t he MSs is the pr imary purpo se and the condition for the success of t he study.
This objective has to be consisten t with t he limited am ount of resources and t im e
available an d duplication or inefficiency must be avoided in dat a collect ion and from a
methodological p oint of view. In t his respect , th e data collection activit ies of the two
tasks were com bined as m uch as possible in order to av oid repetitio ns.
A fundam en tal aspect is the organisat ion of the information according t o a set of
cat egor ies coher ent with t he o bje ctiv es o f t he stu dy. This is not a tr ivia l po int , b ecause,
as we have observed above, the role of evaluation in a MS and its im plem entation
involve a large numb er of institutions, different administrative t iers, legal and polit ical
condit ions, evaluat ion capacity in the administr at ions and societ y. Each of these
com ponents will be categor ised and infor m at ion w ill be stored accordingly; this will
avoid the loss of inform at ion in the process of insert in g it into a dat aset and, at t he
sam e t ime, will m ake comp ariso ns and analyses easier .
An ad dit iona l issue st emm ing from t he l arge numb er of element s involv ed is th e r isk of
enlarging the scope of t he analy sis and not addressing the resear ch qu est ions. The
focus of our analysis will be on State aid ev aluations and will not em brace the entire
nat ional evaluation system; when necessar y, the national syst em will be invest igated
from t he point of view of St at e aid (for in stance, broad national requirem ents which
include State aid evaluations, the nat ional un it respons ible for the ev alua tio ns incl uding
that of State aid, etc.) but also in t his case the analysis will always serve the
com prehension of State aid ev aluat ions.
In addition to these more pr actical issues, the study raises also interpret ive issu es. As
noted abov e in the Section 1 about t he background, a fir st issue concerns th e relation
bet ween t he l egal fra mew ork and evalua tion pra ctice . Th e leg al r equire men ts m ay on ly
be partially respect ed or t heir fulfilment maybe m ainly formal. Furthermore, t he
absence of strict rules does not imply th e absence of evaluat ion. To t ackle t his issue, it
is necessar y t o ef fect ively lin k t he d esk analysis w ith t he field r esear ch and the sur vey.
Sim ilarly, t riangulating inform at ion from differen t sources m ay r educe the risk of
form ing a biased v iew of t he concr ete evalu ation processes.
It is also evident that evaluation processes cann ot be analysed separat ely from t he
met h od ologica l de sign required by State aid ev aluation. The reconstruction of t he
legal and procedural framework has to be linked to the met hodological needs for St ate
aid evaluat ion ( t im ing, inf orm at ion an d t yp e of ev alu ati on) . This re spon ds t o som e b asic
questions r egarding t he impact of the aid on market com petition and on th e economic
per form ance of the beneficiaries; in general, evaluat ion has to use quant itat ive and
count erfactual methods. As the legal framewor k and methods respond to different
pr iorities, the over lap ping of nat ion al a nd EU r ules may cr eat e in consi sten cies. Thi s also

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