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Leader as a tool for local development

Public Hearing - EESC, JDE 51, Brussels, Belgium

For more than two decades, Leader has provided rural communities in the EU with the tools to take an active role in shaping their future. It has enabled rural partners from across different sectors to define common local development goals and strategies and cooperate in the implementation of priority actions. Leader's area-based, bottom-up, partnership-oriented approach has proven successful in mobilising rural stakeholders, building up their skills and capacities, and increasing their sense of ownership of local development processes.

Since its launch in the early 1990s, Leader has grown from a small scale, pilot initiative to a methodological approach in mainstream rural development programming. The number of Local Action Groups, as well as the allocated funding and the EU territory covered, have increased significantly over time.

The EESC is currently preparing an opinion on the lessons learned from the Leader approach, which will also look into its relevance in the context of the CAP debate as well as with respect to the planning of the next financial perspectives. The opinion will also cover links and coherence with other integrated local development instruments, in particular the potential of the Leader approach beyond rural areas (e.g. in the area of urban planning), in the wider framework of the EU Cohesion Policy.

In order to support and feed into the debate, the EESC is organising a hearing on Leader as a tool for local development, which will take place on 20 June 2011.

The hearing will focus in particular on the following issues:

  • Lessons learned from the application of the Leader approach, including added value, effectiveness, efficiency and financial management aspects;
  • Areas for improvement;
  • Future potential: continued mainstreaming and links with other EU Policies, i.e. Cohesion Policy; potential of the LEADER model as a policy tool for local development (e.g. in the context of urban development);
  • Funding aspects: current and future options, including minimum funding allocated, links with other EU funds, and possibilities to leverage funding (e.g. through forms other than grants).


Information: please do not hesistate to contact Anna Bobo Remijn, Tel +32 2 546 8275, or Tiina Alanko, Tel +32 2 546 9646.