The EU LEADER initiative has been running for 20 years and plays an important role in the development of European rural areas, however, in countries joining to the EU after 2004 it is still a relatively new phenomenon. In Hungary, for example, the LEADER+ programme was launched in 2005 with an experimental phase (called a "LEADER type initiative") and has developed to be a fully applied EU programme only in the current programming period. This paper explores the implementation of the LEADER programme in eastern Hungary. The examined Local Action Groups face diverse challenges concerning human, social, physical and financial capital, networks and social learning. The study investigates the opportunities and threats faced by the LAGs, with special regard to institutions, governance and applied initiatives. The roles of the LAGs within the social, economic and cultural context of given areas are examined through Lukesch's (2007) model FOG - forms of governance. The model is a tool to explore the interrelationships local partnership, local needs and local socio-cultural environment. The results of the FOG test show that the prevailing mode of governance in the examined LAGs emphasises animation actions as important elements of operation. Although the importance of animation actions is underlined by the result of the test, their presence between the initiatives is less than it should be. Good examples of animation actions are given: participatory video and a case study of its Hungarian application are introduced. Finally the role of Universities in animation actions is emphasised and closer relation of them with RD networks is called for.
LEADER Hungary rural development social learning animation actions policy analysis