The implementation of a new European policy based on integrated rural development is an entirely new experiment in the Central European countries, which formerly belonged to the communist system. The paper attempts to explore the conditions and the context in which the Local Development Model is being transferred from the 'old' member-states to the new ones, and the methods of its implementation. To examine this issue, we consider the European Union's Leader programme (an acronym of 'Liaisons Entre Actions de Développement de l'Economie Rurale') which became the fourth axis of the European Rural Policy (2007-2013). The Leader approach is usually presented as an original way of supporting local development, especially through the Local Action Group (LAG) which is a local body composed of public and private actors. We focus on how this approach is put into effect in three new member states (Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland). Downloading policy to the local communities takes place via various hierarchical modes of governance. Domestic authorities (or transfer operators) transpose and implement European rules and norms which are more flexible than the former development policies. Looking at the main differences between the four countries we explore how the original model is being distorted by domestic institutional factors. Policy transfer processes are not restricted to the ministries of agriculture but involve a wide variety of non-governmental actors mediating the transfer of the model to the local stakeholders who are the acting receivers. The Leader model is experimented in various territorial and social contexts, more or less receptive to this new way of thinking and managing local development. The paper is based on the relevant academic literature, on official national sources and a field research survey. It is a cross-national comparative work that takes into account national and local variations in order to highlight similarities and differences in the transfer of a policy model.
Pascal Chevalier, Université Paul-Valéry MONTPELLIER 3 , France; Marie-Claude Maurel, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, France
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