Focus group 1: Implementation of the bottom-up approach of LEADER
The main objectives of Focus Group (FG) 1 were:
- to establish an inventory of LEADER implementation models;
- to identify the main difficulties / obstacles in the implementation of LEADER axis and good practice;
- to reflect on possible solutions, at different levels and for the short, middle and long term to improve LEADER administrative implementation.
Raffaella Di Napoli, Italian NRN and Panagiotis Patras, ELARD
Focus Group 1 had 31 participants drawn from 20 Member states and includes representatives of Managing Authorities, NRN support units, LAGs, NGOs and research institutions.
Main activities up to February 2011
- A questionnaire on the implementation of the LEADER approach was distributed to FG participants and other NRN representatives with a view to covering as many as possible of the 88 RDPs and 27 MS. It covered different aspects of implementation procedures, such as the tasks of the responsible body under the RDP programme, the selection procedure for the LAGs as well as financial and administrative issues. The preliminary results of the inventory and questionnaire activities were presented and discussed in a meeting in Rome on 24th March 2010. LEADER implementation case studies were also presented.
- A draft progress report was completed and presented at the LEADER subcommittee meeting of 20th May 2010.
- A final version of the Extended Report was established in December 2010. The report covers a description of three LEADER implementation models (decentralisation of project selection and payment to the beneficiaries, decentralisation of project approval) and an analysis of bottlenecks relating to: (in some MS) a lack of clear distinction of the roles of the MA and LAGs; LAG capacity constraints; the unsuitability of rural development measures for LEADER; inability of some LAGs to effectively implement complex projects and integrated Local Development Strategies; constraints imposed by financial rules and the control system. A summary of the extended report was established in the end of 2010.
- During its meeting of 20 May 2010 the LEADER Subcommittee concluded that problematic issues which were identified in the analysis (LAG running costs, support to complex projects and small scale projects) should be further looked into. Accordingly a 2nd questionnaire on “specific aspects of LEADER implementation” was prepared and was sent out to the participants of Focus Group 1. Thirty six questionnaires were received by 31 October 2010. On the basis of responses received, a draft supplementary report was prepared and presented to the LEADER Subcommittee meeting of 12 November 2010. The final version of the supplementary report on specific aspects of LEADER approach implementation was established in February 2011.
It is intended that the findings of FG1 will feed into other ENRD activities related to the implementation and improvement of EU rural development policy including the work of the ENRD Thematic Working Group on Delivery mechanisms of EU rural development policy.