The first PROFEEDBACK Conference took place in Budapest on 28th April 2022. Under the lead of HÉTFA, the conference on Evaluation of public policy responses to black swans was a great success with more than 75 participants from 23 different countries.

HÉTFA – as the Grant holder institution – participates in a COST-Action called PROFEEDBACK (PlatfoRm OF policy Evaluation community for improvED EU policies and Better ACKnowledgement). The Action aims to foster the networking of the policy evaluation community at EU-level, raise awareness on the importance of evaluation policy research and improve its impact on policy-making.

In the framework of PROFEEDBACK, one conference is implemented every half-year during the COST-Action’s lifespan. The general aim of the half-yearly conferences are to bring together researchers and policymakers from European states, universities, research institutes and consultancies, as well as to provide opportunity to analyse specific topics in general and through different theories and methodologies.

The first conference was organized by HÉTFA and took place in-person in Budapest on 28th April 2022 under title “Evaluation of public policy responses to black swans”. A black swan is an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences on policies. Examples of black swans include the financial crisis in 2010, the European migrant crisis in 2015, the COVID-19 pandemic or the recent Russia-Ukraine war. The event in Budapest was centred around the evaluation of public policy responses to such events.

Day 1 of the PROFEEDBACK Conference featured an official welcome by the Action Char Gábor Balás (HÉTFA Research Institute, HU) followed by three plenary presentations. Yannis Bassiakos and Lena Tsipouri (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, GR) delivered a presentation about the policies of the EU Member States policies after the 2008 economic crisis. The presentation of Aureliano da Ponte (School of Industrial Engineers, ES) focused on resilience in a VUCA context. Finally, the plenary speech of Philipp Brugner (Centre for Social Innovation GmbH, AT) was about the transversal impacts of cumulative crises on democratic governance. During the afternoon, participants had the chance to choose from two parallel sessions to attend. Under the theme ‘Comparing evaluation methods and exploring examples of evaluations supporting policy responses to black swans in health and economic policies’, Session 1 featured presentations by Ileana-Sabina Chiaburu (SNSPA Bucharest, RO) Jaroslav Dvorak (Klaipeda University, LT), Bálint Herczeg (HÉTFA Research Institute, HU) and Oto Potluka (University of Basel, CH). Meanwhile, Session 2 encompassed presentations by Noémia Bessa Vilela (Inštitut pravnih znanosti, SL), Milica Kolaković-Bojović (Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, RS), Mirela Cerkez (The Research Institute of the University of Bucharest, RO) and Kosovka Ognjenović & Mihajlo Đukić (Institute of Economic Sciences, RS) under the theme of ‘Evaluating the long-term impacts (institutional responses) of black swans on policy-making’. After a short break, the conference continued with two parallel sessions. Under the theme ‘Comparative assessment of the economic impact of Black Swans across EU regions’, Session 1 featured presentations with the contributions of Xu Cao (Hungarian University of Agriculture and life science, HU), Ivan Nikolić (Economics Institute, RS) and Tamás Szabó (HÉTFA Research Institute, HU). Session 2 featured presentations by Luca Koltai (HÉTFA Research Institute, HU), Irina Lonean (INA Social Research, RO), Michaela Aioanei (QURES Quality Research and Support, RO) and Claudia Petrescu (The Research Institute for Quality of Life, RO) under the theme ‘Comparing evaluation methods and exploring examples of evaluations supporting policy responses to black swans in human policies’.

Day 2 consisted of the meetings of the Action’s three Working Groups, as well the meeting of the Management Committee. These types of meetings are major milestones in the Action, as it provides a platform for discussion for the Working Groups members, in addition the Management Committee takes decisions and discuss next steps in the Action.

The two-day event resulted in fruitful exchanges and important outcomes. The knowledge and experience gained through the programme are long-lasting and the connections made will certainly remain.

The next PROFEEDBACK Conference will take place in Maribor, Slovenia under the theme “Evaluation of Policies on Social Inclusion, Migration (in particular interventions related to integration)”. The Call for Conference is already available on the PROFEEDBACK website.

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