LEADER approach represents one of the basic pillars of current rural development policy implemented at the European level. Logical foundation of the approach is based on 7 key features, which should be horizontally presented throughout the whole delivery mechanism. That is why the presented paper is oriented on answering the research question: to what extent was delivery mechanism of LEADER (at the level of managing authority and local action groups) during the programming period 2007-2013 supporting the implementation of 7 features of LEADER approach. In order to fulfi l the stated objective there must be individual steps of delivery mechanism defi ned at both levels, consequently all the features of LEADER approach were described and the criteria of success - benchmarks were determined. Mutual linking of these steps resulted in creation of an implementation matrix what represents a visual outcome of the study.
In the EU new programming period 2014-2020 the Leader approach become part of community-led local development (CLLD). Under Slovak conditions, partnerships, which intend to get the legal status of local action group (LAG), are currently in the process of preparing and formulating their CLLD Strategies. Leader approach is characterised by 7 principles, which should be horizontally presented throughout the implementation process. The multilevel governance presented in the implementation of Leader approach includes the management and implementation of rural development programme, through which the Leader is implemented, as well as, formation of LAGs, as the mediators of the approach at local level. Both levels may have supporting or constraining effects on the application of Leader principles in the Leader delivery. The paper focuses on analysing the differences between theory and practice in the conditions of the Slovak Republic when answering the evaluation question: Are stakeholders in Slovakia ready for community led local development? To answer the question, six LAGs were assessed using the focus group as the assessment tool. Representatives of the national authorities were interviewed in order to complete the picture of the evaluated topic. The study pointed out several shortcomings in basic preconditions allowing smooth application of the CLLD.