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EU Organisations

European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD)


The European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD) is an international non-profit making association set up to improve the quality of life in rural areas and to maintain their population through sustainable and integrated local development.

The association spreads actively the LEADER method both at a local grassroots and at an institutional level to make the LEADER approach better known among the European decision-makers, grounded on the following eight key features: area-based approach, bottom-up approach, local public-private partnerships i.e. Local Action Groups, innovative approach, integrated and multi-sectoral approach, networking, cooperation, de-centralised administration.

Structure, key stakeholders and partners

ELARD was founded in Belgium in 1999 by the National LEADER Networks of Local Action Groups (LAGs) of France, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain. Today ELARDs’ members come from the following 18 states: Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and United Kingdom. At present, more than 600 Local Action Groups are involved either through their national or regional networks or as individual members.

ELARD's supreme decision-making body is the General Assembly, which is formed by all members. Observer status can be given to non-members, in order to participate when needed. The association is administered by the Council, which is appointed for a two years term by the General Assembly. According to the Statutes, the Presidency of the association is being held by each active member for a two years period.

Priorities and activities

The current Finnish Presidency which started in January 2011 focus on the following priorities:

  • Strengthening of the LEADER method through its dissemination to new policy fields. ELARD will also support the adoption of the LEADER model in fisheries policies, especially in the new member states.
  • Development of the operational environment of LEADER through the restoration of the specific characteristics and flexibility of LEADER.
  • Expansion of ELARD’s membership base so as to cover all EU member states and and the pre-accession countries.
  • Establishment of closer contacts with all related LEADER actors including the 200 Fisheries LAGs, rural researchers and sectorial organisations of rural development.
  • Promotion of international cooperation of LEADER actors through the organisation of international LEADER networking events with the member organisations in order to facilitate the launching of international LEADER projects.

Further information