General information about the LEADER approach

LEADER – "Links between actions for the development of the rural economy", represents a mechanism for implementing the EU rural development policy measures, and is based on the realization of the local development strategies that are managed by local action groups.

Local development strategy (LDS) is a strategic document for planning and development brought and implemented by LAG for the area it includes.

Local Action Group (LAG) is the partnership of the representatives of public, economic and civil sector of a particular rural area that is founded with the purpose of development and implementation of a local development strategy of this particular area, and its members can be both physical and legal persons.

The objective of the LEADER approach is the promotion of rural development through local initiatives and partnerships. The basic aims of LEADER approach within the IPARD programme are:

  • improvement of rural life and working conditions, including welfare,
  • creation of new, sustainable possibilities of making profit,
  • preserving and making new work places,
  • diversification of economic activities.

One of the basic characteristics of the implementation of rural development in rural communities is the emphasis on local citizenship which is the key factor of the total development of rural areas. It is this specific trust in people who live in rural areas and the trust in their abilities for discovering what is best for their environment, culture, work traditions and skills that makes LEADER projects so unique.

The intersectoral cooperation, informing and educating citizens about the local development strategy that is based on the interaction between the participants and projects from different sectors of the local economy and the development, application and realization of the project the LAG participants are the main premises of this type of public-private partnership that is based on the bottom-up approach.


LEADER approach within IPARD programme consists of two sub-measures:

  • Sub-measure 202.1: Acquisition of skills, animating inhabitants of LAG territories,
  • Sub-measure 202.2: Implementation of Local Development Strategies.

LEADER Principles

LEADER talks about the “how” and not the “what”. It consists of seven basic elements – principles that need to be followed as a whole and not individually:

  1. Sustainable rural development is based on preservation and balanced development of environmental, social and economic capital. The horizontal, intersectoral collaboration as well as the vertical connection of local, regional and national institutions is particularly relevant in the realization of sustainable rural development.
  2. The Area-based approach - every rural area has its characteristics, potentials and recognisability that should be the foundations for the future development of an area
  3. The “Bottom up’’ approach – involvement of all available stakeholders in local communities that contribute to a high quality development through the affluence of ideas and possible solutions
  4. Development of local partnerships - a unique idea of creating local public-private partnerships in the form of local action groups – LAGs
  5. Innovativeness - tradition is unquestionably the basis of sustainable rural development, however, innovations are crucial for the presentation of traditional values in a new and competitive way
  6. Networking - connecting, learning based on examples of good practice, the transfer and exchange of knowledge and experience, mutual development of European rural localities, providing help and support
  7. Cooperation - is one step further from networking toward the initiation and implementation of mutual projects of two or more LAGs within a country, region and/or the European Union.