This study introduces a framework for the monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed areas (SMAs), which is currently being tested by nine European case studies. The framework provides guidance on the selection, mapping, and assessment of ecosystem components and human pressures, the evaluation of management effectiveness and potential adaptations to management. Moreover, it provides a structured approach with advice on spatially explicit tools for practical tasks like the assessment of cumulative impacts of human pressures or pressure-state relationships. The case studies revealed emerging challenges, such as the lack of operational objectives within SMAs, particularly for transnational cases, data access, and stakeholder involvement. Furthermore, the emerging challenges of integrating the framework assessment using scientific information with a structured governance research analysis based mainly on qualitative information are addressed. The lessons learned will provide a better insight into the full range of methods and approaches required to support the implementation of the ecosystem approach to marine spatial management in Europe and elsewhere.