The EESC is convinced that CLLD could have many advantages as a successful European local development tool.
The EESC recommends:
- establishing a clear vision for an obligatory CLLD multi-funds implementation in the European Union, assuring a CLLD approach is used for all types of territories: rural (incl. remote, mountain and island areas), urban and coastal;
- urging the European Commission to explore and analyse in depth opportunities to create a reserve fund for CLLD at EU level. Irrespective of this, the European Commission will have to ensure that all Member States have a national CLLD Fund with contributions from all four ESI Funds (EAFRD, ERDF, ESF and EMFF);
- defining a harmonised framework of all ESI Funds and setting up simple rules for CLLD Fund implementation at EU level;
- recognising that CLLD, which constitutes a reinforcement of the LEADER method, gives Member States a unique opportunity to develop their areas in a more inclusive, sustainable and integrated way in partnership with local stakeholders. In order to achieve greater impact, enough financial means have to be provided for the implementation of CLLD in the programming period 2021-2027. To do this, we urge the European Commission to establish a mandatory requirement for Member States to allocate at least 15% from each ESI Fund budget to the CLLD Fund, which must also be supported with sufficient national resources;
- avoiding any gap between programming periods and guaranteeing a better start to the 2021-2027 period;
- a significant simplification of the CLLD legal framework, implementation procedures and model for the 2021-2027 programming period;
- enabling a close dialogue between all CLLD actors at European, national, regional and local level in preparations for the next programming period for building trust and for implementing a CLLD multi-fund integrated approach,;
- enabling a continuous capacity building of all CLLD actors (authorities, LAGs, LEADER and rural networks, paying agencies, etc.) in relation to CLLD multi-funds;
- harnessing the potential of IT solutions for simplification and automating data collection at national and local level;
- using a participatory approach in keeping local development strategies in line with – and adapting them to – changes in local conditions and benefiting from the revolution in new technologies and IT;
- that the achievements of LAGs are visible, well demonstrated and there has to be continuous evaluation of the implementation of local development strategies and a shift in focus from eligibility control mechanisms towards ensuring results, assessing performance and long-term impacts;
- that data on successful pilots of CLLD in peri-urban and urban areas be collected and information and motivation campaigns organised for wider use.