This 4-page briefing summarises the main challenges and implications for improving policy-driven monitoring and evaluation. Much attention and resources are dedicated to fulfilling the requirements and guidelines of environmental policies. An interdisciplinary pan-European team studied the implementation of the Natura2000 Directives, the Water Framework Directive and the Agri-Environment Programmes with the Common Agricultural Policy in 9 countries across Europe. These policies strongly shape what is monitored and provide useful information on state and trends in the environment; however, we found adjustments could allow these monitoring programmes to better support adaptive management. Rebalancing is needed to focus and enable those making decisions about managing the environment, such as the management groups of protected areas. The findings are relevant across Europe and also beyond.