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Transnational cooperation between rural areas
In a word...
I have particular pleasure in introducing this edition of LEADER Magazine following my confirmation as a Member of the new Commission presided by Mr Prodi. I am delighted to have the opportunity to continue to work with you in promoting new approaches to integrated and sustainable development of Europe's rural areas. As you know, I place a high value on the contribution of LEADER in this important task.
On 13 October 1999 the European Commission approved the draft
guidelines for LEADER+
In drawing up the guidelines, the Commission has examined carefully the numerous submissions received from interested organisations. We have also taken good note of the key messages, which emerged, from the LEADER symposium held in November 1997 to help prepare the new Initiative. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the key features of LEADER+ as proposed in the Commission’s draft guidelines.
LEADER+ will continue to support local-scale, bottom-up approaches to integrated rural development with a strong emphasis on active participation of the local population, on co-operation and networking.
It will not however be a simple repeat of LEADER II. I believe that some of the actions and approaches developed under LEADER to-date are now ready to pass into the mainstream programmes. As its name implies, LEADER+ will seek to go further. It will aim to encourage more ambitious, high quality and original “pilot” strategies for integrated rural development. Key new features in the Commission’s proposals for LEADER+ include:
The Commission is also keen to learn from some of the difficulties experienced with the practical implementation of LEADER II, which I know have at times caused frustration for those working on ground level.
We will seek to work with Member States to identify improved procedures. For example, where necessary, to ensure a more rapid selection of LAGs than was the case under LEADER II, or to ensure that Community funds reach Local Action Groups more rapidly.
The Commission’s draft guidelines for LEADER+ will now be discussed with the Member States. They have also been sent to the European Parliament, Committee of the Regions and Economic and Social Committee for information. Once these procedures have been completed the guidelines will return to the Commission, hopefully before the end of the year, for final adoption and publication in the Official Journal. Member States will then have six months to present their draft programmes to the Commission.
I count on your support to ensure that both the conclusion of LEADER II and launch of LEADER+ are successful.
source: LEADER Magazine nr.21 - Autumn, 99