“The importance of the LEADER method in the context of a local development strategy has been recognised all over Europe, and there are plenty examples under LEADER approach that show how local development strategies can be developed with LEADER funding and how they may continue to have a positive impact into the next programming period.
LEADER has always viewed local people as the main asset of rural areas, and the distinctive characteristic of LEADER projects was the reliance placed on the people who live in rural areas, and on their ability to discover what was best suited to their environment, culture, working traditions and skills.
There is a wealth of experience in the Local Action Groups (LAGs) of the old Member States, many of which date back to the first three LEADER initiatives. With the right guidelines in place, this experience can continue to make valuable contributions to the future of rural development and to the benefit of the new rural actors in the expanding Europe.
Networking structures should bring people together to exchange experience and knowledge, inform and promote rural development actions, find project partners and make people feel stronger because they are part of a larger unit. That is why one of the most important goals of ELARD is the “campaign to spread the philosophy, principles and scope of the LEADER method grounded in its seven specific features in order to achieve sustainable rural development across Europe”.”