The Community initiative LEADER has encouraged, since 1991, the active involvement of local rural communities in the development of their local economy. The LEADER approach for local development has, over a number of years, proven its effectiveness in promoting the development of rural areas by fully taking into account the multi-sectoral needs for endogenous rural development through its bottom-up approach. LEADER is therefore continued in the 2013 CAP reform and its application is compulsory for rural development programmes at national and/or regional level. Support for LEADER local development from the EAFRD covers also inter-territorial co-operation projects between groups within a Member State or transnational co-operation projects between groups in several Member States or co-operation projects between groups in Member States and in third countries [Regulation 1305/2013, last amended by Regulation 2015/791].
Community-led local development which is designated as LEADER local development is principally supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and may be supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) or the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Those Funds are referred to as the "European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds concerned" [Regulation 1303/2013, last amended by Regulation 2015/1839 and Decision 2014/190, see section 12.3].
Community-led local development should be focused on specific subregional areas. It should be led by local action groups composed of representatives of public and private local socio-economic interests, in which, at the decision-making level neither public authorities, as defined in accordance with national rules, nor any single interest group represents more than 49 % of the voting rights. Local development should be carried out through integrated and multi-sectoral area-based local development strategies. It should be designed taking into consideration local needs and potential, and should include innovative features in the local context, networking and, where appropriate, cooperation.
A community-led local development strategy should contain at least the following elements:
(a) the definition of the area and population covered by the strategy;
(b) an analysis of the development needs and potential of the area, including an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats;
(c) a description of the strategy and its objectives, a description of the integrated and innovative features of the strategy and a hierarchy of objectives, including measurable targets for outputs or results. In relation to results, targets may be expressed in quantitative or qualitative terms. The strategy shall be consistent with the relevant programmes of all the ESI Funds concerned that are involved;
(d) a description of the community involvement process in the development of the strategy;
(e) an action plan demonstrating how objectives are translated into actions;
(f) a description of the management and monitoring arrangements of the strategy, demonstrating the capacity of the local action group to implement the strategy and a description of specific arrangements for evaluation;
(g) the financial plan for the strategy, including the planned allocation from each of the ESI Funds concerned.
Local action groups design and implement the community-led local development strategies. Member States define the respective roles of the local action group and the authorities responsible for the implementation of the relevant programmes, concerning all implementation tasks relating to the community-led local development strategy.