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Agricultural Policy and Rural Development

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European Rural Development Network

The LEADER European Observatory


The main aim of the LEADER II European Observatory is to facilitate innovation transfers and exchanges of experiences and know- how between the territories and rural players of the European Union.

It also works towards raising the profile of the LEADER II initiative and the EU’s rural development policy.

The LEADER II European Observatory is under the direct control of the Directorate General for Agriculture (DG VI) of the European Commission which has made the AEIDL (European Association for Information on Local Development) responsible for its technical implementation.


Leading the European Network for Rural Development

The Observatory is the body responsible for leading the «European Network for Rural Development», a network which concerns all countries in the European Union and whose role is to facilitate relations between a number of very diverse organizations:

  • «local action groups» (LAG), whether experienced or new (between 600 and 800 rural «micro-regions», of which 150 benefited from LEADER I, are involved in LEADER II);

  • other collective actors whose action, based more on themes, is in keeping with the logic of territorial development;

  • administrations and institutions participating in the implementation of LEADER II;

  • various bodies involved in rural development.



The LEADER II European Observatory is organized around three operational entities:

  • a permanent team of about twenty people within the AEIDL in Brussels is responsible for realizing various activities which are described below and for coordinating the plan of action;

  • a pool of about 30 rural development experts, grouped around six themes of work («Outlook», «Methodology of Innovation and Rural Development», «Rural Tourism», «Local Products», «Environment», «New Activities and Services»), provides the necessary expertise with regard to content, leadership of seminars, etc.;

  • units responsible for leadership of the Network on a national level are completing the plan of action in most Member States of the European Union.



The technical assistance provided to beneficiaries of LEADER II particularly involves the production of various publications devoted to rural development:

  • INFO-LEADER - the Information bulletin of the Network (10 issues per year in 7 languages) is distributed to local action groups and administrative bodies responsible for implementing LEADER;

  • LEADER-MAGAZINE - published 3 times a year, this review has a high circulation (30 000 copies in 11 languages) informs readers of the achievements of LEADER, by discussion of the main issues concerning rural development in Europe;

  • «INNOVATION SPECIFICATIONS», METHODOLOGICAL GUIDES AND OTHER TECHNICAL FILES - these documents are specifically aimed at technicians, development officers, local heads and are devoted in particular to methods of territorial development, based in the realisations of LEADER groups.

  • DIRECTORY OF «EUROPEAN UNION ACTION PROGRAMMES AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT» - this directory, in the form of regularly updated cards, presents all actions, programmes, etc. implemented by the European Commission and which affect rural development;

  • DIRECTORY OF «INNOVATIVE ACTION PROGRAMMES AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT» - this document, in the form of analytical cards, describes numerous innovative action programmes led by local action groups and likely to illustrate the diversity of European problems concerning rural development and their solutions;

  • DIRECTORY OF NATIONAL AND REGIONAL LEADER PROGRAMMES - for each Member State and European region affected by LEADER, this work will present the characteristics of its rural development policy, its position concerning the implementation of the Initiative as well as the details of territories which benefit from the LEADER intervention.


«Rural Europe» Internet Site

All publications indicated above can be accessed on this site.
Also available for on-line consultation are the names and addresses of local action groups and those in charge of them, the events which may be of interest to rural players, partnership research from LEADER beneficiaries, etc.

Discussion forums on major themes concerning rural development are also open on the site.


Seminars and conferences

Each year the LEADER II European Observatory organizes about ten transnational seminars on key themes concerning the local approach to rural development. These meetings are primarily for LEADER beneficiaries but organizations directly concerned by the theme in question may also attend.


Technical assistance to trans-national cooperation

Under close guidance from the Commission, the LEADER II European Observatory manages a budget of ECU 4 million aimed at helping local action groups wishing to participate in a cooperation project, identify potential partners, define the project and specify the methods for its realization. Funding is planned to organize the first meetings (a maximum of 5000 ECU) and to carry out a feasibility study (a maximum of 20000 ECU).

Once this is done, partners concerned may request financial aid under section C of the Initiative («Transnational Cooperation»).


Additional Information

Two other specific information sheets are available (in 7 languages) from the LEADER II European Observatory:

  • «Directions of use for the Rural Europe Internet site»
  • «LEADER II transnational cooperation»


date of publication: 01/98

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