The LEADER programme (in French – Liaison entre actions de développement de l'économie rurale – In English - Links between actions for the development of the rural economy) is a European Union initiative to support rural development projects in rural, coastal and urban areas of EU member countries.
- LEADER I ran from 1991 to 1993
- LEADER II ran from 1994 to 1999
- LEADER+ ran from 2000 to 2006
In the current programming period (2014-2020), the LEADER method was extended to cover not only rural but also coastal (FARNET) and urban areas under the Community-led Local Development (CLLD).
Operation and objectives
LEADER+ projects are managed by local action groups (LAGs). Each project must involve a relatively small area, with a population of between 10,000 and 100,000. In France, the whole country is eligible with the exception of urban areas with over 50,000 inhabitants. France has 140 local action groups.
- Area-based: taking place in a small, homogeneous socially cohesive territory
- Bottom-up: local actors design the strategy and choose the actions
- Public-private partnership: LAGs are balanced groups involving public and private-sector actors, which can mobilise all available skills and resources
- Innovation: giving LAGs the flexibility to introduce new ideas and methods
- Integration: between economic, social, cultural and environmental actions, as distinct from a sectoral approach
- Networking: allowing learning among people, organisations and institutions at local, regional, national and European levels
- Co-operation: among LEADER groups, for instance to share experiences, allow complementarity or to achieve critical mass
- LEADER I (1991–93) supported 217 LAGS with EU funding of €0.442 billion from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF)
- LEADER II (1994–99) supported 906 LAGs with EU funding of €1.755 billion
- LEADER+ (2000–06) supported 893 LAGs with EU funding of €2.105 billion, and a total budget of €5.05 billion
In 2013 the LEADER approach, which had developed in a rural context, was extended to apply to urban and coastal areas under the title of Community-Led Local Development (CLLD).