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Assessing the added value of the LEADER approach
Some reminders about LEADER and its evaluation
1.1. Guidelines for evaluating LEADER: two different requirements
LEADER is a Community Initiative which aims at introducing and
experimenting with a new approach to rural development. LEADER II
has focused on the innovative nature of actions, their demonstration
effect and transnational cooperation between LEADER beneficiaries
(local action groups or LEADER II other collective bodies).
In the Notice to Member States (94/C 180/12), the European
Commission, as promoter of the Initiative, outlined the general
objectives, guidelines and requirements for assessing LEADER II,
strengthening the importance of evaluation in relation to the
The information to be provided by the LEADER beneficiaries and the
regional or national authorities must comprise:
"Information for assessment purposes, permitting an initial
analysis, specification of the changes expected, the extent of the
innovation and the model function of the project. This information
will serve as a reference point for assessment to analyse over the
duration of each project the emergence of the innovation in
question, its impact, its spontaneous spread and the conditions for
any transfer." "The periodic assessment must also show the value
added by the different categories of the programme in relation to
other measures in the same area (including transnational cooperation
In order to achieve this objective, the LEADER II evaluators should
"use specific parameters adapted to the programme's characteristics"
(par. 19 of the Notice).
Furthermore, in the official document on the procedures for
monitoring and assessing Structural Funds expenditure (STAR Doc.
VI/3479/94REV3), two requirements are established for the
1) the general guidelines and established procedures for the
evaluation of other programmes are applicable to LEADER;
2) "as regards impact evaluation, it will be necessary to take
account of LEADER's objectives as well as certain unique aspects:
its locally-based approach, the innovative measures, an evaluation
of the nature and composition of the beneficiary group."
This quick review of official references on the evaluation of LEADER
provides a first indication of what is expected: in fact, two
different evaluation methods should be used.
- On the one hand the procedures identical to those of other EU
programmes have to be followed. These are based on physical and
financial indicators for evaluating progress, results and impact.
- On the other hand, to assess its different approach to rural
development, LEADER's unique and distinctive aspects should also be
Although the Initiative represents a very modest share of the
Structural Funds, the evaluation work that actually needs to be done
is in fact more complex than for other Community interventions. If
the methodology for the first type of evaluation is fairly well
established, a methodology for evaluating the unique aspects of
LEADER has not yet been put forward. This Observatory document aims
to contribute to and enrich the reflections of the Initiative's wide
range of partners.
In this final stage of LEADER II, many local groups also wish to put
in place an internal evaluation mechanism that enables them to draw
lessons from the activities carried out and to prepare for the
future. The systematic presentation of LEADER's specific features in
this document may be of use to them.