Design and implementation of the Local Development Strategy: a case study of Polish and Italian Local Action Groups in 2007-2013
We investigated the extent to which the Local Development Strategy (LDS) activities planned at the beginning of the European Union’s Leader programme implementation period, and the associated budget allocation in response to the defined local needs, were confirmed at the end of the period. We used as examples the implementation of two LDSs, one by a Local Action Group (LAG) in Poland and one in Italy. We applied some simple indicators to assess how much the budget assumptions at the planning level were reflected in the successful implementation of projects, and conducted interviews with representatives of the two LAGs. We showed that the two LAGs were generally working effectively but that excessive institutionalisation could be the major constraint to the proper design of the LDS and thus the implementation of the Leader programme. For the Polish LAG, it was because of the transfer of the evaluating role outside of the LAG: assessment of applications was undertaken by the regional institution, the Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture. In the case of the Italian LAG, the reason was an excessive formalisation of the rules concerning project applications.