Technical Assistance (TA) funds are provided to ensure the effectiveness of the EU’s rural development policies and maintaining administrative standards. Hence, a sufficient evaluation system for TA is missing. Considering ongoing debates on the Common Agricultural Policy in the next funding period and general claims for cuts and restructuring in public sector going along with the financial crisis, in this paper we raise the question if the current interventional design is ultimately supportive. Possible risks lie, for example, in conflicts between European and national interests, high administrative burdens and incentives for misspending. Based on insights of a 2010 field study conducted in Romania, we take up the case of this new member state. Adapting Galbraith’s Star Model of organisational design we show that TA is indeed used insufficiently to overcome ineffectiveness in the Romanian agricultural administration. Failures are caused among others by the general budget deficit, weak management, and a lack of (political) will as well as by the instrumental design itself. Findings are discussed by reviewing selected TA measures against common policy evaluation criteria. Our results offer essential input for the strategic, targeted use of TA and its instrumental design, and suggest an (alternative) approach to its evaluation.


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