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Assessing the added value of the LEADER approach

Chapter 4
Information needs at the national/regional and European level


Table 1 in Chapter 2 gave a brief introduction to the evaluation needs of the national/regional and European levels. This last chapter aims to draw out some questions which these levels can put to themselves to enable them to meet these needs. The answers may come from the findings of a local level, voluntary self-evaluation exercise as they may come from information supplied by the regulatory follow-up and evaluation. The results of these two approaches, one more qualitative and the other more quantitative, should ideally be compared in order to enhance the interrelations between the LEADER method and the results obtained.

Evaluation at the regional/national and European levels have similar objectives; only the area level changes as does the respective weight of the specific features for which these levels are directly responsible. In a bid to simplify, the questions contained in this chapter are addressed at the regional/national level only.

At this level, the objectives of the evaluation may be classified into three categories:

    a) An assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of the different institutional levels in the establishment of delivery guidelines and procedures (referred to as the "rules of the game" throughout this chapter) to enhance LEADER's specific features (technical assistance, animation, making information and know-how available, administrative advice, definition of appropriate monitoring methods, etc).

    The questions put forward below aim to evaluate to what extent certain "rules of the game" established at the national/regional level to deliver LEADER, have restricted, extended or guided the groups' interpretation of LEADER's specific features. Did they influence the way in which the groups understood and implemented their mission? The ex-post evaluation of LEADER I has in fact shown that the guidelines and procedures produced by national/regional authorities have played a role in "filtering" the information contained in the Notice to Member States on LEADER I.

    b) Identifying models and best practice by comparing different approaches and by looking for ways to explain the differences in the performances of the groups.

    This exercise is fundamental to the definition of a future development policy for rural areas.

    c) Evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the different institutional levels in making external resources available to the local groups:

    • In terms of financing, the regional/national level is an obligatory channel for the management of European funds. In many case, this level also takes part in co-funding local programmes.

    • Networking activities fall upon the national and or regional networks, which are organised and co-funded by the regional/national authorities. Their functions are complementary to those of the LEADER Observatory at European level. Transnational cooperation can sometimes be facilitated by support at regional level.

    As these two specific features depend on the regional/national and European stakeholders, the way in which they are handled should also be evaluated. The decisions and actions taken at these levels can significantly influence the capacity of local groups to implement their actions or obtain the results expected from the presence of the specific features (this is one of the main conclusions of the LEADER I ex-post evaluation).


4.1. The area-based approach


a) Defining the "rules of the game"

What principles have been established to define the areas?

Has this led to conflicts or exclusions?

What was the outcome of these negotiations?

b) Identifying best practice

  • Compare the methods for delineating areas, explain the differences and those areas where the approach worked best.

  • Has it:

    • mobilised undervalued endogenous resource?
    • provided a comprehensive overview of the area?
    • led to a more sustainable form of development?

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