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[ Index ]

Assessing the added value of the LEADER approach

Chapter 3
Questions and evaluation issues for each specific feature

 



3.7. Methods of management and financing

 

The decentralisation of LEADER's management to Member States between LEADER I and LEADER II (LEADER II is delivered through national and regional programmes) has in many cases altered the degree of financial autonomy of the LAGs. This degree of autonomy varies considerably from one Member State to the next, even between regions from the same country. Administrative traditions specific to each country, the form of intervention chosen by the Member State and approved by the European Commission (Operational Programme or Global Grant), the size of the financial envelope (amounts above 40 million euro are paid in annual instalments), the methods of public co-funding, and the type of LAG (public, private, mixed) are all factors which have determined the financial management principles of LEADER.

Whatever the method of financial management, financing may be considered as a LEADER specific feature because in many cases, it is the groups which:

  • define their budget on the basis of the actions planned in their rural innovation programme;
  • allocate their resources to different measures;
  • approve actions as they are submitted by the project leaders;
  • modify and adjust these allocations during implementation if necessary;
  • are accountable for their decisions.

Such financial decision-making by a group, which is not always identifiable with the public authority, empowers the group and remains a specific and unique aspect of LEADER. This is one of the conditions of the bottom-up and area-based approach principles and is required to respect the objectives sought by creating the LAG.

LEADER's particular management methods have in all cases strongly influenced the programme's delivery and flexibility. This element must, therefore, be taken into account to evaluate the Initiative.

 

3.7.1 Definition


The main stakeholders place a financial envelope at the disposal of the LEADER group to deliver an integrated programme in the area. The contract, which links the LEADER group to those in charge of the national or regional programme, has at least the following:

  • a provisional programme which provides the reference framework for all financial decision-making of the local group,
  • the financing plan by year, measure and fund,
  • the procedures for selecting project leaders.

But no matter what the degree of autonomy held by the local group, the delegation of management to groups is only partial. The authorities in charge of LEADER are responsible for public financing (European, national and regional).

 

3.7.2 Motivation and expected results


Delegating part of the decision-making and management of funds to the groups is designed to:

  • give them responsibility for allocating money to measures in accordance with local needs,
  • decentralise decision-making and management,
  • provide financial autonomy to enable the plan to be adjusted to changing needs when it is underway,
  • give them leverage for negotiations between local players and sectors.

 

3.7.3 Main questions


a) the initial situation

  • Describe the guidelines and procedures for financing LEADER:

    • what is the division of labour established between the national/regional authorities and the LAG?
    • what channel is used to distribute funds to the project leaders?
    • what degree of autonomy does the local group have?

b) the processes

  • Availability of funding:

    • did financial allocations arrive regularly and when they were due, for both LAGs and project holders?

    • did any significant delays slow down the delivery of the programme? What were they due to (administrative delays, differences in the rate of progress of the region's different groups, financial management methods in place, lack of complementarity with other programmes, etc)?

    • did any funding partner make (an) advanced payment(s) due to delays in the transfer of funds? Which?

    • Changes to the sums allocated to the measures during their implementation.

    • were the initial financial allocations for actions/projects changed significantly? What was the reason? How did this affect the realisation of actions?

    • if financial management was delegated to a public agency, did its presence influence the decision-making capacity of the group?

c) the results and impact

  • did delays in the availability of funding influence the results and impact of actions? How?

  • did changes to the allocation of funding in the budget (flexibility) help to correct initial mistakes or better respond to local needs? At what stage were the changes made, which procedure was used and what was the objective?

  • did this capacity to adjust provide leverage for the LAG to negotiate with different sectors and local partners?

  • were any particular financial decisions made (choice of small or large projects, guarantees, bank arrangements, etc)? Which? What were their results?

d) the lessons

  • What lessons can be drawn to improve financial management in the futures?


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