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Leader seminar "Challenges and methodology of transnational Cooperation"

2-6 April 1997, Dieulefit (Drôme), France


Case study

Bazois-Alentejo cooperation: Regional products and handicrafts of Europe

The action

This is a case of transnational cooperation that in 1995 translated into the organisation of fairs and points of sale of regional products. Initially between Bazois (Burgundy, France) and Alentejo Centro (Portugal), this development training project has evolved towards the marketing of local products. The partnership has been enlarged to Northern Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Rumania and Austria, and the project has evolved towards exchanges between young people, women, farmers and the creation of a European network of sustainable local development.

The key elements

  • In France, the project is run by a local official and a development agent in partnership with the association of producers and craftsmen of Bazois and the association of shop-keepers and craftsmen of Châtillon in Bazois.
  • The expected result of this project is the appropriation by an area of its own culture and its own future through comparison with other cultures and other futures. The focus therefore has to be on fighting withdrawal and isolation by improving the understanding of others.
  • The local partnership comprises all the people and associations involved in local development.
  • 50% of the financial means are found at the local level. The rest of the funding is provided by the European Commission as part of the Leader initiative. A few trips were paid for by the French Ministry of External Relations.


Local context

The main areas concerned - Bazois (France) and Alentejo Centro (Portugal) - have some similarities but also a lot of differences. Among the similarities are:

  • a marked rural nature;
  • search and development by local producers of sectors for agricultural diversification;
  • involvement in Leader I and II initiatives;
  • participation of local officials and local development structures.

The differences between the two areas concern the geographical location (peripheral and Mediterranean nature of Alentejo, central position of Bazois), the weather conditions and socio-economic structures (in particular the large agricultural estates in Alentejo).


Point of departure

The point of departure was at the first Leader I meetings between the two main players: an elected official from Bazois and the head of the Alentejo group. They had in common a profound desire to prevent their rural areas from withdrawing into themselves. They wanted to analyse their own situation and compare it with the initiatives implemented in other Member States with the idea of opening up to the outside and establishing a local rural development network.

The invitation to Portugal to attend the socio-cultural and trade event "May in Bloom" was the triggering factor: it prompted the Bazois officials to reciprocate and organise an exchange visit at "Gourmand Days" in Saulieu.



From 1993 to 1995, several exchanges were organised between "Alentejo Centro" and the region of Bazois in France: invitation of the French to "May in Bloom" and participation of the Portuguese in "Gourmand Days".

Meetings were held to discuss the organisation in Bazois of a fair like "May in Bloom" where foreign participants are put up in private homes to favour cultural exchanges and tastings of local products are organised. There are also cultural events (music, theatre,...) from different countries.

At a Leader I seminar, the technician from Bazois met other participants who shared the same sensitivity, and the partnership expanded to Northern Ireland and Sicily. Poles were then put in contact with the partners and were integrated in what has gradually become a network, since the partnership has since then expanded to Austria, Scotland and Germany.

The "Local Products Fair" cooperation project gradually materialised. In September 1995, the first fair-exhibition of regional products and handicrafts of Europe took place in Châtillon in Bazois based on the Portuguese "May in Bloom" event. In 1996, the fair was held in Corbigny and proved to be not only a cultural and human success but also a commercial success: nearly 7000 people attended the fair in two days.

A point of sale of local products was set up near the "Maison du Bazois" which markets products from the areas of the different partners. It is a permanent relay of the Fair.

In parallel to this, a European foundation for local development called "Delos-Constellation" was created in the form of a European association in November 1996. Incorporating the same partners, its objective is to establish training programmes on sustainable local development in rural areas.


Plans for the future are:

  • the establishment of a calendar of fairs in the other partner Member States;
  • creation of points of sale in the other partner Member States;
  • development of exchanges between women and between young people from different partner areas.



    Mr Eugène Teisseire

    Mr Xavier de Grossouvre

    Syndicat Intercommunal de Développment du Bazois

    La Maison du Bazois

    Tel: 33 386 84 02 03

    Fax: 33 386 84 13 30


    Mr Camilo Mortagua

    IDEIA - Alentejo

    P - 7920 Alvito Portugal

    Tel/Fax: 351 1 482 14 09

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