Community Led Local Development (CLLD) is a specific tool for use at sub-regional level, which is complementary to other development support at local level. CLLD can mobilise and involve local communities and organisations to contribute to achieving the Europe 2020 Strategy goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, fostering territorial cohesion and reaching specific policy objectives.
The Greek and Italian Presidencies attache great importance to cohesion policy as a valuable means for boosting sustainable growth and for overcoming the current economic crisis in Europe. The new CLLD Mechanism, included in the European Common Strategic framework for Structural and Cohesion Funds, can have a real added value in the efforts to promote economic and social cohesion throughout the European Union and achieve long lasting growth.
In order to deliver the most pertinent opinion possible, a hearing was organised on 29 September 2014 at the EESC headquarters in Brussels, bringing together different actors in the field who shared their experience and positions regarding this new tool. This hearing was very helpful for the drafting of this exploratory opinion and delivered an overview of the position of civil society.
Over the past 20 years, the LEADER approach to community-led local development (CLLD), financed by the Structural and Rural Development Funds, has helped rural stakeholders consider the long-term potential of their region, and has proved its effectiveness in delivering development policies. This LEADER approach, which has received continuous EU support since 1991, has become an important aspect of rural development policy and has gained broad acceptance across Europe. Since 2007, the community-led approach has also been applied to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to support the sustainable development of fishing communities.
Based on these experiences, a new tool for all regions and for all the Structural Funds was included in the new regulations for the 2014-2020 period. Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) – as a 2014-2020 cohesion policy tool for local, rural, urban and peri-urban development – is a dedicated tool for use at sub-regional level and complements other development support at local level. It has the capacity to mobilise and involve local communities and organisations so that they can contribute to the Europe 2020 Strategy goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, fostering territorial cohesion and allowing particular policy objectives to be attained.
The Greek presidency considers cohesion policy to be very important in promoting sustainable growth and overcoming the ongoing economic crisis in Europe, believing that the new community-led development tool can make a real contribution to efforts to promote economic and social cohesion throughout the European Union. This is why the EESC has been asked to draw up an exploratory opinion on CLLD.
The ECO section held a broad public hearing on this subject at the end of September 2014. This public hearing brought together people who are very active and interested in the new methodology. Over 190 participants from 25 EU and non-EU European countries attended the hearing to express their views on the issue. The EESC rapporteur, Roman Haken, went straight to the vital question: what are your views on/experiences with CLLD? The discussion was handed over to the panel, but also, to a large extent, opened to the floor.
Representatives from the EU institutions and stakeholders using this approach on the ground were able to share their experience and advice.
Investments have to be made in the right place and at the right level. It is therefore essential for local stakeholder involvement to be used as a key tool for achieving EU objectives. An exclusively top-down approach is no longer sufficiently effective when it comes to managing local issues. A more cross-cutting approach to work is required, involving the broadest possible range of stakeholders, where civil society, the various local authorities and representatives of the socio-economic partners would play a key role. The stakeholders' ability to assume ownership of projects will decide their success. If consistency between projects is to be ensured, this ownership is indispensable.
The Commission hopes that CLLD will help regions to take a more holistic and integrated approach and deliver concrete results. It expects CLLD to motivate citizens, NGOs and PPPs to address local challenges and needs and to translate a global approach into local ideas and action.
At present, 16 Member States have announced that they would like to apply CLLD to the management of their Structural Funds (ERDF and ESF).
The opinion will be put to the vote in the ECO section in November and submitted to the EESC plenary session for adoption in December 2014.
For additional information please send mail to CLLD2014.