Contemporary processes of economic, social, political and cultural restructuring are having profound impacts on the form and function of rural areas within the countries of the European Union and beyond. Furthermore, rural development policies and programmes at EU and national levels have been critical in shaping the responses of different rural areas across Europe to these wider processes of restructuring. Contrasting empirical studies of ten European countries, this volume provides a comprehensive analysis of the restructuring processes and the various national, regional and local rural development programmes. Adopting a different national perspective in each chapter, it focuses particularly on issues of power and leadership in the evolution and administration of these programmes. Five broad issues are examined in each case: socio-economic changes in rural areas, the administrative context in which rural development and political activities take place, the sociological context, the political control of rural development, and the use of different discourses of rurality in shaping the development process.