LEADER[i] is a local development method which has been used for 20 years to engage local actors in the design and delivery of strategies, decision-making and resource allocation for the development of their rural areas.
It is implemented by around 2 600 Local Action Groups (LAGs), covering over 54% of the rural population in the EU and bringing together public, private and civil-society stakeholders in a particular area.
In the rural development context, LEADER is implemented under the national and regional Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) of each EU Member State, co-financed from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).[ii]
In the 2014-2020 programming period, the LEADER method has been extended under the broader term Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) to three additional EU Funds:
Although LEADER is obligatory only under the EAFRD, a single action can now be supported under two or more of the four EU Funds at the same time through the concept of multi-funded CLLD. Where this is applied, it enables LAGs to comprehensively integrate local needs and solutions and helps to reinforce the links between rural, urban and fisheries areas.
[i] The term ‘LEADER’ originally came from the French acronym for "Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie Rurale", meaning 'Links between the rural economy and development actions'.