[ Contents ]
From strategy to action:
Project selection, expressing a development strategy
2.1 Diversity of contexts, diversity of answers
The forms that the project selection process take reflect the area's history and the development strategy that the LAG has chosen for itself, depending on the needs of its area of intervention. A study of the procedures adopted has shown the local groups' ability to search for the most suitable answers to the specific problems facing their area.
The diversity of the project selection processes is therefore primarily an expression of the diversity of the area contexts.
In the Kozani LEADER area (Western Macedonia, Greece), the area has only been occupied for a relatively short period of time. The recapture of this area by Greece after the First World War led to an enormous number of Greeks moving to the area, often to land formerly belonging to great Ottoman landowners. The land reform of the 1930s facilitated and intensified their establishment. This recent occupation of the area found expression in certain deficiencies in terms of infrastructure and quality of the building heritage that was accentuated even further by the migratory movements of the 50s and 60s, brought about by the new sectors of industrial development and irrigated farming. The LAG must, therefore, in this case, emphasise the creation of basic conditions for people who settle in the area and for local development (basic facilities, infrastructures, support centres, etc.).
In addition to its isolation, the Capo Santa Maria di Leuca area (Italy) is faced with people having less confidence in the public institutions and, more generally speaking, in the collective organisations. However, this area benefits from a certain energy that can be found at two levels: on the one hand, at the level of companies who use sub-contractors; on the other hand, at the level of young people, who show a certain spirit of initiative. Local businesses remain, however, relatively isolated and of a small-scale, without a sufficient critical mass to access more distant markets.
The LAG is therefore faced with the need to support the creation of young people's initiatives and the restoration of confidence between inhabitants, necessary to set up joint activities.
Other LAGs operate in an isolated environment, in areas which for many years have existed almost in autarky, with an economy based essentially on traditional family farming, supplemented by revenue from emigration and with unfavourable natural conditions. This is the case of the Serranía de Ronda (Andalusia, Spain), where for several years new assets have been emerging, particularly in tourism, taking into account the proximity of the coast and the area's cultural heritage. The LAG therefore chooses the most appropriate projects to solve the problem of structuring the local society, which is essential if the new opportunities which arise are to be developed.
The Sierra de Béjar y Sierra de Francia (Castile-Leon, Spain) has experienced a similar situation, but for 20 years has benefited from a certain economic energy, particularly thanks to tourism favoured by the relative proximity of Madrid and the development of quality agri-food (such as Iberian ham) and craft products. The challenge facing the LAG exists especially in terms of mobilising individual producers in order to encourage them to improve production conditions whilst belonging to networks or associations so that they can realise strategic projects for their development, such as centres for promotion, sales and training.
A similar context exists in areas such as Psiloritis (Crete, Greece), where proximity to the coast has facilitated a certain economic energy by associating tourism to traditional farming activities, which still occupy more than 60% of the population. Nevertheless, the adaptation of small family businesses to coastal tourism is a long-term job. Modernising the structures located inland in order to reverse the trend of concentrating tourism on the coast is the LAG's privileged main line of intervention.
Other areas, such as Wexford (Ireland), are relatively dynamic but have a little asserted local decision-making power. Emphasis is therefore placed on community development, local democracy and the fight against social exclusion.
Other LEADER areas, such as Ouest-Aveyron (Midi-Pyrénées, France), are relatively well structured areas benefitting from a certain economic energy. The professional associations are well organised within dynamic representative bodies. However, the strategies are based considerably more on a sector of activity than on the whole area in its complexity. This sectoral development has found its limits and the challenge for the LAG is therefore to gradually introduce an integrated development strategy at the level of micro-areas, which can allow new development opportunities to be created and implemented.
In each of these contexts, it can be seen that the area is faced with a particular hurdle, which slows down its development, but that the area does have assets which can be called upon to break the stalemate. It is therefore in this context that the LAGs will devise the procedures for project selection. Four types of approach can be singled out:
a) Creation of basic facilities to ensure that communities settle in the area (infrastructures, revival of the building heritage, etc.). This is the case of Kozani (Greece), where actions are essentially based around "equipping" the area.
b) Creation of the conditions necessary for mobilising potential project leaders. This is particularly the case in Capo Santa Maria di Leuca (Italy): the LAG is looking to recreate confidence in public institutions and joint approaches. In a different way, this is also the case of the Serrania de Ronda, where it is hoped to structure the local actors in order to be able to develop the new opportunities arising.
c) Development and harmonisation of the individual structures of non-trading companies around an area strategy. This is particularly the case in the Sierra de Béjar y Sierra de Francia (Spain) and in Psiloritis (Greece).
d) Rediscovery of a new internal coherence between actors around new development lines in areas that have already been experiencing a certain dynamism. This concerns the most developed areas, whether they are Objective 5b areas such as Ouest-Aveyron or Objective 1 areas such as Wexford.