Today, the European Commission published a study assessing the impact of LEADER on territorial development. It concluded that LEADER effectively developed solutions to address economic and social development challenges and opportunities at local level. The study suggests that LEADER’s strongest areas are job creation and maintenance, local added value of products and enterprise modernisation. Enhancing local governance capacities and knowledge within LEADER operations was also identified as a benefit. Additionally, the study notes that LEADER performance in developing environmental capital or fostering climate action was less visible.
The study gathered evidence on LEADER design, delivery and impacts. This included analysis of spending by EU countries, EU-wide surveys, interviews, local case studies and more. While only accounting for roughly 7% of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), LEADER demonstrated its relevance and effectiveness in contributing to sustainable rural development across the EU.
Despite its limited access to EU resources, LEADER has been able to develop complex and locally tailored solutions to many rural development challenges. The evaluation highlights the importance of information, awareness, clarity and trust to ensure cost-effective and value added results from LEADER in a wide variety of local situations and contexts.
While the findings of the study are overwhelmingly positive, certain areas for improvement were identified, particularly with regard to knowledge exchange between different levels of the governance and delivery system. These include improved communication and clarity of roles within LEADER, simplification of procedures, enhanced collaboration and new indicators to better capture LEADER outcomes.
This study, along with the replies to the CAP-specific questions of the public consultation on the long-term vision for rural areas, will contribute to an overall evaluation of the impact of LEADER on balanced territorial development, to be published at the end of 2022.
The evaluation study on the impact of LEADER on balanced territorial development includes an executive summary in English and French, as well as a leaflet providing a concise overview of the study and its recommendations.
One of the objectives of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy is to contribute to balanced territorial development through a series of measures like LEADER (Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie Rurale).
The LEADER approach aims to involve people and local organisations in the design of community-led rural development strategies. The European Structural Funds finance the LEADER approach to community-led local development (CLLD), mainly via the EAFRD.
LEADER was first introduced in 1991 as a community initiative to engage local actors to contribute to the future development of their rural areas. The approach was included in the previous programming period (2007-2013) as an integral part of the EU's rural development policy. In the current programming period of 2014-2022, LEADER is implemented by around 2800 Local Action Groups (LAGs). These LAGs are composed of representatives of public and private local socio-economic interests, and cover more than 60% of the EU’s rural population.
17 März 2022