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Abstract

I National Rural Networks (NRNs) have been introduced as a new policy intervention under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) in the period 2007-2013. Major tasks ascribed to the NRNs are: transferring information on rural development measures to rural stakeholders, identifying good practices, and organising exchange of expertise and know-how. Classified as Technical Assistance, the NRNs are expected to increase the effectiveness of the EAFRD and to contribute to the improvement of policy delivery and governance. However, neither a common intervention logic nor an evaluation system has been established for the NRNs. This paper examines the NRNs’ potential for added value creation and for achieving their objectives of improving policy delivery and governance. Special attention is devoted to the NRN in the post-socialist new member state Romania with little experiences in EU policies. The NRNs have so far raised hardly any scientific interest making empirical work essential for approaching our research objectives. Besides outlining the networks’ theoretical potential from the literature, practical experiences with the NRNs were gained from surveys amongst network units across the EU and Romanian network members in 2010. Results allow for drawing an intervention logic underlying the instrumental idea of the NRNs, highlighting strengths and weaknesses in implementation, and providing lessons against which the legislative proposals for the Common Agricultural Policies post 2013 are discussed.

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