The sustainable livelihoods framework and Participatory Rural Appraisal have originated in the 80's in the South and have been applied later to settings in the North. They are used to research problems and to change social arrangements in order to support collective-action. The problem is that frequently it is forgotten that the actions at local level are constrained by wider socio-political structures which cannot be changed by the local community. Also, communities are heterogeneous and the participatory processes tend to work with the middle classes.
The problem is that these participatory and bottom-up rural development process have been used in Europe in a way that seems to imply that the problems of underdevelopment can be resolved at the local level.
Also "PRA or similar participatory approaches for rural development are often utilized as legitimizing instrument for channeling rural development funds, often EU money, and for promoting localized rural development as an excuse for lacking overall policy concepts to overcome structural inequalities between and within regions and localities."
Take conclusions regarding the LEADER program yourself. :*)
KORF, B., OUGHTON, E. (2006) Rethinking the European countryside - can we learn from the South? Journal of Rural Studies, 22, 278-289.