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How can Member States assist the FLAGs in developing their strategies? What kind of capacity building is necessary?

The preparation of strategies by the FLAGs and the processes involved in their development should be seen as one of the most important contributions made by Axis 4. Their real value lies not so much in the technicalities of the strategy but in the fact that they have been discussed and worked through in a bottom-up way with all the main stakeholders in an area from the very beginning.

The strategies should be seen as far more than a formality for obtaining a limited amount of funding and rather as the foundation stones for a sustainable process of local development which extends beyond the programming period in both time and scope. In this sense, one of the most valuable investments that Axis 4 can make is in community training and building the capability to act.  

Member States appear to be following two main types of capacity building processes. Those possessing a well developed network of experienced local development actors have often launched a one stage call for proposals for the areas, groups and strategies. Support for this existing capacity is provided through information meetings, campaigns, websites, explanatory manuals, training sessions and expert support at the local level. An example of this type of approach is France .

Many countries with less experience of integrated local development strategies have preferred to organise a two stage selection process. This involves a list of potential areas and / or groups which are preselected on the basis of a relatively light call for expression of interest. These groups thus selected then benefit through the provision of a programme of training, mentoring and expert support to help set up the partnership and develop the strategy. An example of this kind of approach is Estonia.