During the preparation of a European project it is necessary to include a plan that foresees the expected economic, social, and environmental impact, as we have already seen here.


In this article, we will focus on measuring and tracking economic impact.


Let’s go through all the elements and steps point by point. 


What are impact indicators?


In order to define impact indicators we can refer to the concept of a self-feeding circle of impact where we find:


  • The definition or design of the expected impact, in relation to the reference program.
  • Implementation,e. the strategic plan linked to the project proposal and the various expected results.
  • Evaluation and monitoring, with regard to the project’s KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), in order to intervene when necessary. In addition, the data collected will continuously influence project development and evaluation, both during and after the project, to ensure its sustainability.


Guidelines for measuring environmental impact


The environmental impact in European projects envisages the achievement of certain specific objectives that may change depending on the reference call. These include improving the efficiency of processes and/or products by reducing the production of CO2 while respecting certain parameters, creating new bio-materials by guaranteeing specific performances and the use of non-polluting materials, respecting green and circular processes in the production cycles and in the supply chain itself, and the recovery, recycling and re-use of waste to create new products.


We will therefore have to achieve the expected environmental impact, including a demonstration of expected results with quantitative and qualitative specifications where possible.


Furthermore, on a macro level we will always have to refer to the different policies mentioned in the call, as well as to general European policies such as the European Green Deal (which we have already talked about here) and the Circular Economy (which we have talked about here).


The European Green Deal aims to transform the European Union into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy by ensuring that:


  • No more net greenhouse gas emissions are generated in 2050
  • Economic growth is decoupled from resource use
  • No person and no place are neglected


The European Commission has adopted a set of proposals to transform EU climate, energy, transport and taxation policies to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by the year 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Which indicators should be taken into account to define environmental impact?


The indicators to be considered for measuring the achievement of the expected environmental impact vary depending on the target values to be achieved. Therefore, it may be necessary to include a partner in the project that has the capacity to conduct Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

The Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA) defines LCA as “one of the fundamental tools for the implementation of an Integrated Product Policy and the main operational tool of Life Cycle Thinking”. It is an objective method of assessing and quantifying energy and environmental loads as well as the potential impact associated with a product/process/activity throughout its entire life cycle, from raw material acquisition to end of life (“from Cradle to Grave”).


How do we establish verification criteria?


According to ISPRA, the international level “LCA methodology is regulated by the ISO 14040 series of standards. At a European level, the strategic importance of adopting LCA methodology as a basic and scientifically suitable tool for the identification of significant environmental aspects is clearly expressed in the Green Paper COM 2001/68/EC and COM 2003/302/EC on Integrated Product Policy, and is also indirectly suggested within the European Regulations EMAS (Reg. 1221/2009) and Ecolabel (Reg. 61/2010)”.



How do we properly define our KPIs?


To define KPIs in the best way possible, we will need to engage multi-disciplinary teams that can predict the expected economic impact across multiple areas.


Do you need any help defining the impact of your project or do you want someone to review what you’ve written?



Feel free to contact me to arrange a meeting: I will be delighted to answer any questions you may have!  


Sara Canella

Sara Canella

EU Funding, Innovation & Marketing

I am a freelance consultant specialized in applying for and managing European funding for companies and start-ups active in the field of research and innovation. My work includes the creation of business plans, development plans and marketing plans aiming at applying for European calls for proposals. My objective is to provide companies active in innovation with some concrete tools to start their projects and with my know-how to convert them into real business opportunities.