Since its inception in 1991, the European Community initiative LEADER became widely recognized as having been a successful and innovative pilot instrument to mobilise local actors in a bottom-up, territorial and integrated approach to pursue local development in rural areas.

The LEADER approach involves strengthening territorial coherence and implementation of integrated actions that can lead to the diversification and development of the rural economy for the benefit of communities.

The LEADER approach consists of seven key characteristics whereby each one complements and interacts positively with the other throughout the implementation process. When these criteria work in harmony, they seek to improve the quality of life and increase prosperity in rural areas.

- Area based Approach

- Bottom up Approach

- Partnership Approach (LAG)

- Innovation

- Inetgrated Approach

- Networking and cooperation between areas

- Local financing and management

A distinctive feature of LEADER is the implementation of integrated development programmes for local rural areas, drawn up and implemented by broad-based local partnerships, called Local Action Groups (LAGs).

LEADER presents local communities and policy makers with a win-win situation. Local actors have the opportunity to develop and implement integrated strategies specifically elaborated for the region, without the restrictions of priorities that may be too generic and that do not reflect the specific needs of their area. Moreover, local strategies contribute to the achievement of rural development policy objectives.


The main objectives of LEADER are to:


Support small-scale community projects which are innovative in nature;


Increase capacity of local rural community and business networks to build knowledge and skills;


Encourage innovation and cooperation in order to tackle local development objectives.