The new European Council Regulation on support for rural development (EC) No. 1698/2005 has opened up the opportunity for two important innovations for the design and implementation of agrienvironmental measures : local action groups (LAG) according to the LEADER approach and calls for tender. The article firstly reviews the political and scientific debate on the possible performance of these innovations and, secondly, analyses how agents in public administrations, private associations and research institutes assess them. This ex-ante evaluation is based on 279 interviews in nine EU member states, carried out in the context of an EU-research project in the Sixth Framework Programme in 2006. The results show that (1) the performance of LAG is generally rated higher than that of auctions, (2) different actors show similar evaluation patterns, thus forming advocacy coalitions, and (3) experiences and learning may play an important role in the actors’ evaluation of both innovations.


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