(27 October 2017) – A few weeks ago, about 20 people, all with considerable experience of the LEADER approach and territorial development, met in in Alentejo, Portugal. Going under the banner of the “CARMEN group”, they present a number of principles and mechanisms to put citizens and local initiative at the centre of the European project.
For about three decades, Europe has experimented with a number of highly successful initiatives which provide ordinary people with the means and tools to explore new solutions to the challenges they face.
One notable example is LEADER which, over the last 25 years, has evolved to become “Community-Led Local Development”. Now more than 3000 local groups, each made up of hundreds of local people, design and implement their own strategies.
Another example is ERASMUS, which, in a decentralized way, has allowed more than three million young people to develop a sense of European identity by allowing them to explore and absorb the diversity of European culture for themselves.
What lessons can we draw from these past initiatives? Can they help us to rethink the policies required to reconnect Europe to its citizens and meet the emerging challenges we face today? These are the questions addressed by the CARMEN group, which includes people who are or have been closely involved in AEIDL.