The Leader Approach Across The European Union: One Method of Rural Development, Many Forms of Implementation

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Abstract

After the accession of the ten new member states to the EU in 2004 and the following membership of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, the (neo)endogenous development method LEADER has become pan-European. LEADER was implemented in all EU countries in the period 2007–2013, however, its application and potential to impact rural areas differed from country to country. Therefore, the aim of the article is to describe these differences on the basis of support outputs of LEADER under Axis 4 of the Rural Development Programs in 2007–2013. Respecting different path dependencies of the EU states, the article demonstrates the differences in the implementation of this method in two basic territorial units of the EU member states according to the length of the EU membership, as well as the length of experience in implementation of the LEADER method. The scope of LEADER implementation and the potential impact significantly differed between the old and new member states, and the internal heterogeneity of groups is also evident. On the one hand, lack of embeddedness of the method is manifested among the EU12 states (the need for dynamic growth of institutional capacity), on the other hand, socio-economic and political factors modify scope, potential impact and way of implementation of the method in individual countries.

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