The RuDI study will provide a thorough analysis of the design, delivery and impact of EU Rural Development Policy (incl. LEADER). The study combines quantitative and qualitative approaches starting with a critical review of the state-of-the-art in RD theory and the conceptual frameworks and approaches used in RD policy evaluation. In the study the Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF) and the underlying intervention and impact logics will be critically examined. The positive and negative effects of rural development policies on institutional, social, economic and environmental level will be identified and described in a set of carefully selected and framed case studies. The impact assessment will also include those impacts that have not been anticipated. The case studies will be representative of the structural differences that can be found in the characteristics of rural areas across the EU. Focus will be on different types and characteristics of territory, interrelations with RD programme priorities and measures, and an assessment of their 'hard' and 'soft' impacts. The comparative cross-national analysis of the case studies will provide a better understanding of driving forces in policy design, the strengths and weaknesses of different delivery and governance models, the positive and negative impacts of RD policies and, most importantly, a more convincing conceptual and methodological framework for evaluating RD policy. Consultations with RD policy actors and evaluators will ensure that the analyses are closely coordinated with the demands and possibilities of practitioners. The RuDI study will be concluded with recommendations for a more appropriate RD policy design, delivery, impact monitoring and assessment.
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