[ Index ]
Assessing the added value of the LEADER approach
Questions and evaluation issues for each specific feature
3.6. Networking and Transnational Cooperation
Networking and transnational cooperation provide the framework for
the circulation of information and exchange of experiences among
those involved in rural development actions. Hence, they contribute
to the transfer and dissemination of experiences. The participants
are not only the LAGs but include the public authorities and their
decentralised services, local collective bodies, social and economic
partners and associations. National and regional authorities are
also involved in networking but not directly by transnational
cooperation (except from a funding perspective, see below).
LEADER II has set up many ways of networking and exchanging:
- The LEADER Observatory facilitates exchange of experience at
European level, gathers and disseminates information on innovative
models and practices and provides technical assistance designed to
help different rural areas set up transnational cooperation
- National coordination units have also been set up in eleven
of the EU countries. They have an organisational and information
function for national LEADER groups, and provide technical
assistance and support for the implementation of LEADER.
- Transnational cooperation is a more formalised agreement than
networking and takes place between LAGs from several Member States.
Three types of projects are included: the transfer of knowledge, the
search for complementarities and the joint-production of goods and
services, and exchanges.
Furthermore, national associations of groups and/or regional
networks have been set up in a large number of Member States, at the
initiative of the local groups, in order to strengthen inter-group
3.6.2 Motivation and expected results
Networking has been established as a requirement for all direct
LEADER beneficiaries. They have a series of obligations, in
particular to provide information on the actions carried out.
By facilitating the exchange and circulation of information about
rural development policies and the dissemination and transfer of
innovation, networking aims to:
- reduce isolation and increase the information and references
used by LAGs, thereby improving their decision-making capacity and
the effectiveness of rural development actions;
- compile a database of information and analyses on innovative
actions and practices in order to promote the transfer of know-how
and best practices between rural areas.
In the case of transnational cooperation the motivation is more
ambitious. This may be to achieve a "critical mass" of products or
services (for example through joint production or marketing
agreements) and to bring partners together in order to achieve a
stronger bargaining power on the markets or in sectors.
3.6.3 Main questions
a) the initial situation
- describe the type of external contacts and exchanges
established and their purpose (exchange of information; methods;
approaches to specific actions/projects, persons, products,
services; involvement in regional, national or European
associations). Which persons and organisations were involved in the
exchanges (other LAGs, associations of LAGs, experts and
practitioners, elected persons, university and research centres,
specialised technological agencies, others)? Which type of network
was used (European, national, regional, informal, other)?
- Describe the transnational cooperation project set up by the
LAG? What were its objectives and who was involved (the LAG itself,
other local players, individual or collective businesses)? When were
they defined (as the action plan was drawn up or on the basis of new
needs identified as it got underway)?
b) the processes
- How was the need to network or get involved in transnational
cooperation identified? At what stage in the implementation of the
programme. Who took the initiative?
- How were contacts initiated and developed? Which channels
were used? (visits, seminar participation, publications, telephone,
e-mail, experts, intermediary institutions or agencies, etc)? What
strategy was followed to choose the contact? (similarity of needs,
proximity, complementarity, etc)? How did the contacts evolve during
- Was technical assistance (networking, partner search,
transnational cooperation) useful and relevant to the group needs?
At what level was it the most efficient (regional, national or
European)? Which complementarities were established between
- Were the model actions acquired through networking easy to
transfer and adapt to local circumstances or did they require
adaptation? Did this hinder the transfer of practices or model
- How did the transnational cooperation projects overcome the
difficulties specific to this type of project (definition of joint
objectives, communication between partners, cultural and language
differences)? Did the slowness of developing these project
negatively affect local mobilisation?
c) the results and impact
- Was networking influential for identifying innovative actions
and methods, for expanding local references and know-how, and for
local capacity building?
- Did it help to create a system of external contacts which
reduced the isolation of the area and created new opportunities for
durable exchanges? How was this achieved?
- Did transnational cooperation contribute to reaching a
critical mass (of references, products, services to be marketed)
otherwise insufficient at local level? Did this enable local
projects to be carried out which would not have been possible
d) the lessons
- Which lessons should be drawn to improve networking and
facilitate transnational cooperation in the future?