LEADER Romania 2007-2013: Informative Guide
- What Does LEADER Represent?
- Which are the Eligible Areas?
- Who are the Beneficiaries?
- Who are the Animators and which is their Role?
- Why LEADER?
- Which are the Objectives?
- Which Activities May Enjoy Financing?
- Which is the Financing Value for LEADER?
- Which are the Steps in Implementing the Local Development Strategy?
- Which is the Role of the Management Authority and of the Implementation Agency (APDRP)?
- Brief Glossary of Specific Terms
1. What Does LEADER Represent?
On September 20, 2005, the European Commission adopted the Regulation concerning the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which comprises, in addition to the three strategic Axes (Axis 1 – Improving the competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sector; Axis 2 – Improving the environment and the countryside; Axis 3 – The quality of life in rural areas and diversification of the rural economy), a methodological Axis – LEADER.
At the European level, the necessity for the LEADER Programme emerged in 1990, when the public programmes for rural development in several countries were limited as far as the objective of their intervention was concerned, being administered in the traditional top-down method (from the central level towards the local one).
3 LEADER phases:
- In the period 1991-1994, at the European level, LEADER I was put into practice – ‘The Starting Phase” – within its framework, 217 Local Action Groups (LAG) were created.
- Within the framework of LEADER II (1994-1999) – “The Generalization Phase” – the Member States selected 1000 LAGs.
- Within the framework of LEADER+ (2000-2006) – “The Consolidation Phase” – 896 LAGs were selected, in rural areas from all the Member States.
Starting with 2007, LEADER is no longer a European initiative programme, and was introduced as an Axis in the National Rural Development Programme (NRDP).
1.2. Defining Elements
- Bottom-up approach – the active participation of the local population in the planning process, decision-making, and implementation of the strategies necessary for the development of the area;
- Area-based approach – the efficient use of the local resources within a certain area, the development of integrated activities and the creation of a common vision;
- Partnership approach – the creation of a public- private partnership interested in the development of the area, known as a Local Action Group;
- Networking – the creation of a network connecting the local partnerships;
- Integrated and multi-sector approach to strategies – the interaction of partners from all the sectors of the local economy;
- Innovation – the search for new answers to the existing problems in the area of rural development;
- Cooperation between partnerships/LAGs* .
2. Which are the Eligible Areas?
LEADER will be applied in the areas in the rural regions defined according to OECD** .
The territories have to be of limited size and have a homogeneous character, a strong local identity, and a sufficient critical mass from a human resources, financial, and economical point of view, in order to support a viable development strategy.
The population in the particular territory shall be neither larger than 100.000 inhabitants (a maximum of 150 inhabitants/km), nor smaller than 10.000 inhabitants.
The proposed areas must be formed of bordering localities, but it is not compulsory for them to follow the national administrative limits (namely, the area may comprise of several counties or even regions).
3. Who are the Beneficiaries?
The beneficiaries of the LEADER Axis are:
- The Local Action Groups (LAGs), which are public-private partnerships – with over 50% private partners (social and economic partners, foundations or associations), and public partners; the role of the LAGs consists in the elaboration of the local development plan, drawn up in accordance with an area development strategy, and the selection of the projects that will be financed within the strategies.
- The local community, local public and private structures involved in rural development (NGOs, foundations, associations, local councils, mayoralties, the civil society from the rural area).
4. Who are the Animators and which is their Role?
The animators are persons with specialized training (which may be acquired through the participation in training courses organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), who have the role to identify the problems that hinder or slow down the local development, as well as to propose/initiate concepts, measures, and projects capable of solving local problems.
5. Why LEADER?
- It addresses specific local problems;
- It ensures the valorisation of local resources;
- It mobilizes the local actors, the representatives of the rural population, in order for them to get involved in and to take control of the development of the rural areas, through the drawing up of strategies focused on the problems identified in their own communities;
- It offers rural areas the possibility to collaborate with other territories in order to exchange and transfer know-how, through the setting up of networks;
- Due to its decentralized, integrated and bottom-up character, it is important for the balanced development of the area;
- The selection of the project takes place at the local level (and not at the national one);
- The selection of the project is made based on specific criteria, established at the local level;
- The LAG may support the elaboration of the project;
- The level of financing for a project may be higher than the one the project would benefit from if it were implemented within the general programme.
6. Which are the Objectives?
LEADER contributes to the accomplishment of one or more objectives of the strategic Axes provided for in the Regulation concerning EAFRD through:
- The improvement of local governance;
- The valorisation of the particular resources of the territory.
7. Which Activities May Enjoy Financing?
- The implementation of local development strategies;
- The implementation of cooperation projects:
- Inter-territorial (between territories within the same state)
- Transnational (between territories from different states)
- Animation activities and acquisition of skills.
8. Which is the Financing Value for LEADER?
A minimum of 2.5% of the EAFRD for the period 2010-2013 shall be allocated for the LEADER Axis. This value is the result of the summing up of the allocation of different percents from the other three strategic Axes.
9. Which are the Steps in Implementing the Local Development Strategy?
- The identification of the potential partners within the LAG (a bottom-up initiative);
- The setting up of a public-private partnership;
- The elaboration of a plan which would include:
- the definition/description of the area in which the development plan is to be implemented;
- the description of the LAG (members, missions);
- the evaluation of the initial situation and the analysis of the needs and the potential of the described area(s) (SWOT analysis);
- the objectives set for the implementation of the plan; the strategy for reaching the objectives; the correlation with other development programmes;
- for each activity the plan shall specify: the objectives, the brief description of the measures that are to be implemented, the impact;
- the financial plan for each measure/activity;
- the means to inform the potential beneficiaries and the great public;
- administrative directives, detailed rules and procedures for the control of the activities;
- directives for evaluation and monitoring;
- directives for the consultation of local partners regarding the local action plan;
- The submission of the area development plan, in order for the respective territory to be recognized as a LAG;
- The selection of the application form;
- The implementation of the strategy per se.
10. Which is the Role of the Management Authority and of the Implementation Agency (APDRP)?
The General Directorate for Rural Development within MADR performs the role of Management Authority for the National Rural Development Programme in Romania, being responsible for the selection, evaluation, and monitoring of the LAGs, supporting the elaboration and the implementation of local strategies, through the structures at the local level.
The Payment Agency for Rural Development and Fishery (PARDF) will be the national authority responsible with the financial implementation of the LEADER Axis, therefore being responsible with making payments for the submitted projects, and with controlling the development of the investment.
11. Brief Glossary of Specific Terms
The active participation of the local population in processes of planning, decision-making and implementation of the strategies necessary for the development of the area
Person that identifies the problems in the rural areas, proposes solutions for their solving, and promotes financing opportunities
Cooperation between LAGs/partnerships within the same state
Cooperation between LAGs/partnerships from different states
LAG = Local Action Group
Local partnerships consisting of various representatives of the civil society, public and private sectors
Axis within the National Rural Development Plan which has as a main objective the development of rural communities as a result of the implementation of strategies drawn up by the LAGs (the term is an contraction of a French formulation: Liaisons Entre Actions de Développement de l’Economie Rurale)
National Rural Development Network
A network comprised of the representatives of public authorities, both central and local, involved in rural development, local communities, institutions, NGOs in the rural development field, LAGs, and the beneficiaries of the programmes, or those involved in the accomplishment of the objectives of the rural development measures
Local development strategy
Set of activities performed by the LAG, directed towards the accomplishment of the objectives set as priorities, in order to develop the rural communities
Local development plan
Document which needs to be sent by the LAGs to the Management Authority, which will be a base for the selection of the LAGs, through which the activities and necessary resources for the development of the rural community are established
* The last two elements no longer have a compulsory character, according to the new Regulation concerning EAFRD;
** The definition of the rural areas, based on the methodology of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), according to which a rural area is defined as a territory on which the density of the population is smaller than 150 inhabitants/km;