For the evaluation of the EU Rural Development Policy in the programming period 2007-2013, the European Commission has designed a Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF). The CMEF forms a comprehensive approach of rural development policy evaluation: data for about 160 indicators have to be collected and analysed and nearly 140 common evaluation questions (CEQs) have to be answered. Concerns on the CMEF refer amongst others to this large amount of indicators and evaluation questions, indicators and questions that bear little relevance to the circumstances of particular Member States or regions, and the emphasis on quantifiable indicators, which describe what has happened and detract attention from the more qualitative diagnosis of how and why it (not) happened. Given these concerns on the CMEF, the question arises whether alternative evaluation approaches for the evaluation of EU rural development policy exist. In this study, we report on our findings of the testing of the use of the mixed case study approach for the evaluation of EU rural development policy and give some recommendations about its usefulness as alternative to the CMEF. The mixed case study approach has been tested in the mid-term evaluation of the RDP 2007-2009 in two NUTS2 regions in the Netherlands: the provinces of Zeeland and Gelderland.
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