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Assessing the added value of the LEADER approach
Official references concerning the evaluation of the LEADER Initiative  focus on two dimensions:
In early 1998, the Commission produced guidelines on the methods of interim evaluation. At the time of finalising this document (May 1999), these interim evaluations had been completed for a majority of the national or regional programmes. Related guidelines on the official ex-post evaluation were also in preparation. The Commission will send these to the Member States by Autumn 1999 at the same time as the guidelines for the ex-post evaluation of the Objectives 1 and 5b programmes.
This Observatory dossier is not part of the regulatory and obligatory measures for evaluating the Initiative. It is designed to give interested local groups  and authorities some elements of a methodology which can be incorporated in a complementary way as outlined above, but whose utilisation is purely voluntary. It appears important to be able to provide a tool that can help authorities and groups draw lessons from the LEADER experience which may be taken into account when shaping future rural development policies and programmes.
This dossier is the result of work undertaken by a group of experts from the Observatory and has been revised in light of the work carried out on the ex-post evaluation of LEADER I.
A consultation procedure of potential users has been put in place to ensure that the method put forward corresponds as much as possible to the evaluation needs of the local groups and different levels of authorities responsible for implementing LEADER.
 OJEC 94C 180/12 and STAR Doc. VI/3479/94REV3.
The term "local group" used in this dossier