Evaluation of LEADER and its contribution to Balanced Territorial Development

A CCRI team of Janet Dwyer, Katarina Kubinakova, John Powell, Nenia Micha and Fred Dunwoodie-Stirton is leading this study for the European Commission’s DG Agriculture and Rural Development. 

The research is being carried out over the period October 2020 to September 2021, and is funded under the Framework Contract for ‘evaluation studies of CAP measures contributing to the general objectives of balanced territorial development’, which CCRI is jointly delivering with partners Analysis for Economic Decisions (ADE, Belgium), Austrian Institute for Regional Studies (ÖIR), and (CREA) in Italy.

This study aims to assess what LEADER (a ‘place-based’ EU approach to local development), funded as part of the CAP’s Rural Development Policy – has achieved in the past 7 years.   Nearly 2,800 Local Action Groups (LAGs) have been set up across the EU and funded to promote sustainable development in rural communities. They develop strategies based on locally identified priorities, work with multi-stakeholder partnerships, and support projects and events designed to create jobs, stimulate the rural economy and tackle social and environmental needs in defined rural areas. The evaluation will examine LEADER’s effectiveness, efficiency, and added-value as a distinctive approach to rural development with a long and prominent history.

The study has been collecting data and information via two major online surveys of LAGs and their Managing Authorities, and ten country case studies looking in-depth at 36 LAGs selected from 14 different Rural Development Programmes, in Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Czechia, Slovenia and Romania. The data analysis and comparative assessment work will be completed through the summer, with a final report submitted to the EC in October. The findings will be published on the Europa website by the end of 2021.

Overview of the LEADER Research

Case studies in 14 RDPs to gather in-depth information on LEADER impacts.  Case studies will be conducted in: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Case studies will involve interviews with LAG Managers, stakeholder representatives, project beneficiaries, Managing Authorities, Paying Agencies, National Rural Networks, academics, and other relevant stakeholders to build up a picture of LEADER impact across the case study areas.  

An On-line survey of LAG Managers open to all 3,000+ LAGs across the EU to capture a wider range of information on factors affecting LAG activities and effectiveness.

An On-line survey of Managing Authorities (MAs) open to all MAs across the EU to capture a wider range of issues involved in Managing the LEADER approach under different geographic, cultural, and socio-economic conditions. 

Documentary analysis of reports, case studies, and previous research on LEADER.

Information and data from the different sources will then be analysed thematically to explore factors influencing LEADER effectiveness, impact, and contributions to Balanced Territorial Development across the EU.

The research project will run over the period November 2020 – September 2021.

For more information, contact Katarina Kubinakova or Fred Dunwoodie-Stirton.