(01 September 2017) – This is a good time to talk about LEADER, with discussions currently underway on the next phase of the Common Agricultural Policy, and on the programming of European funds for 2021-2027, all against the backdrop of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. In this context, AEIDL is pleased to be able to publish an interesting paper written by José Luis Peralta Pascua, an expert in EU Law and a specialist of LEADER.
The LEADER approach, conceived as a social democratic experiment, focusing on the local level, with cooperation on common projects that seek to improve living standards through the involvement and commitment of local people, has a future, but only if there is a deeper focus on the core principles of its methodology.
If we want to return to the original philosophy of the LEADER approach, and extend it beyond the countryside and to other funds, changes need to be made. The coexistence of the EAFRD with other fund is problematic, for example, especially if the differences are not recognized.
National managing authorities must also renounce their paternalistic attitudes and delegate more autonomy and decision making powers to the Local Action Groups (LAGs), fairly and without reservations. The first objective of the LAGs in this new stage of programming should be to open up to the participation of the local communities, in all their diversity, especially young people and women.
There should be a framework that permits the peaceful coexistence of the “wardens” of EU funds and the communities they supposedly serve, whether it be via a single fund or multiple funds.
The LEADER approach still has a lot to offer because, for one reason or another, it has yet to realize its full potential.