LEADER programme

The LEADER programme (an acronym in French meaning Links between actions for the development of the rural economy) is a European Union initiative to support rural development projects initiated at the local level in order to revitalise rural areas and create jobs. LEADER I ran from 1991–93, LEADER II from 1994–99, and LEADER+ from 2000-2006. In the current programming period (2014-2020), the LEADER method has been extended to cover not only rural but also coastal (FARNET) and urban areas under the banner of Community-led Local Development (CLLD).

Operation and objectives

LEADER+ projects are managed by local action groups (LAGs). Each project must involve a relatively small rural area, with a population of between 10,000 and 100,000. In France, the whole country is eligible with the exception of urban areas with over 50,000 inhabitants. France has 140 local action groups.

LEADER+ has three objectives:


From 1991 until 2001 the LEADER methodology was developed with the support of the European Commission's technical assistance contractor, AEIDL. LEADER developed seven principles of local development.

The 7 principles of the LEADER local development approach

These are:

  1. Area-based: taking place in a small, homogeneous socially cohesive territory
  2. Bottom-up: local actors design the strategy and choose the actions
  3. Public-private partnership: LAGs are balanced groups involving public and private-sector actors, which can mobilise all available skills and resources
  4. Innovation: giving LAGs the flexibility to introduce new ideas and methods
  5. Integration: between economic, social, cultural and environmental actions, as distinct from a sectoral approach
  6. Networking: allowing learning among people, organisations and institutions at local, regional, national and European levels
  7. Co-operation: among LEADER groups, for instance to share experiences, allow complementarity or to achieve critical mass



In 2013 the LEADER approach, which had developed in a rural context, was extended to apply to urban and coastal areas under the title of Community-Led Local Development (CLLD).


  1. European Commission, The Leader approach — A basic guide, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2006, ISBN 92-79-02044-7

External links

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