[ Contents ]
Creating jobs in rural areas
In a word...
Yves Champetier, Director
LEADER European Observatory
"25.000" - This is the figure in the "ex-post" assessment of LEADER
I (1992-1995) finalised a few months ago. It is an estimate of the
number of jobs created in the 217 beneficiary areas of the first
phase of the Community Initiative for rural development.
It will be another three or four years before the results of LEADER
II are known, but with a budget and the number of areas four times
greater than those under LEADER I, it can be estimated that some
100.000 jobs will have been created.
Of course, these figures do not tell us about the many different
situations illustrated in the four actions and various reports and
stories featured in this 20th issue of LEADER Magazine.
These examples are reminders that in rural areas jobs are created
one at a time. Sometimes employment is the result of a new
combination of activities, or an expansion of activities. Sometimes
it is generated by an exemplary partnership between government and
business or the voluntary sector. Quite often, jobs will come from a
collective approach to propose a new service in one place, to market
local products differently or to come up with a new kind of tourism
in another place. It is on the ground, helping the local
communities, businesses, voluntary organisations and local
authorities with their initiatives on a day-to-day basis, that
little by little progress is being made in the difficult and ongoing
fight for jobs.
As Elena Saraceno shows in her article, these results are a direct
consequence of the LEADER "approach". At the local level, the
results are especially significant, because the actions launched
have taken full advantage of the seven essential characteristics of
this LEADER approach:
- LEADER concerns areas large enough to allow for a coherent
local development policy;
- extensive involvement of the community is constantly sought
and facilitated by the permanent effort to inform, animate and
- a large partnership means that all the "living strengths" of
the area (local authorities, businesses, voluntary organisations,
etc.) are able to work together with the local action group;
- the actions implemented are "innovative", that is to say these
actions try to provide new answers to the problems of the areas
concerned while coming from a sustainable development perspective;
- these actions are part of a coherent whole where
complementarities and links can be created between the area's
various sectors of activity;
- participation in the LEADER network at the regional, national
and European levels enables the local groups to make their actions
known, to benefit from the experiences of others and to cooperate
whenever advantageous with neighbouring or more distant areas;
- the procedures for LEADER's administrative and financial
implementation should make it easier to lend flexible and effective
assistance to projects.
LEADER II is in its final stage: by the end of 1999, all
appropriations are to have been committed. The current period is
therefore a period of intensive mobilisation for the local action
groups which are working to finalise the implementation of projects.
At the same time, everyone is wondering about the future and place
local actors will have in tomorrow's rural policies.
The Member States are now busy preparing the European programmes for
the period 2000-2006, and most of them are currently examining how a
certain number of lessons from LEADER might be incorporated in the
future policies on rural development. Not only are they looking at
the idea of a large dissemination of this approach to all the
Union's rural areas, but they are also thinking about opening it up
to other types of intervention, other sectors, other policies. It is
a fundamental challenge for the years ahead, and it is hoped that,
tomorrow, this local approach will become one of the essential
components of these future policies.
However, much still remains to be done to help the countryside with
the changes it will have to undergo, and the future rural
development Initiative must continue to play a fundamental role by
encouraging the emergence of new approaches, experimenting new
models of development and pioneering new activities beneficial to
all of the European Union's rural areas.
source: LEADER Magazine n°20 - Spring, 1999