Are Stakeholders in Slovakia Ready for Community-Led Local Development? Case Study Findings

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Abstract

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.

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