EU Rural Development
EU Rural Development (LEADER)
The LEADER Initiative (Liaisons entre actions de developpement de l’économie rurale) was established by the European Commission in 1991. It was designed to aid the development of sustainable rural communities following the reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy. The Initiative (or LEADER I) became available in Ireland in 1992 and 17 Groups were selected for participation in what was essentially a piloting of the Initiative. This saw the inception of the ‘bottom-up’ approach to rural development, with the implementation of business plans and decisions on funding being made at a local level on projects.
LEADER II commenced in 1994. It extended the Programme to all rural areas in Ireland and was delivered by 34 Groups. While LEADER I had been a pilot initiative, LEADER II was designed to complement strategy for rural areas in the National Development Plan 1994-99. In addition to increased funding and coverage of all rural areas, emphasis was placed on the development of the acquisition of skills and improvements to the animation and capacity building levels to ensure delivery of the business plan for the area.
LEADER continued in the 2000-2006 round of EU funding through the LEADER+ Community Initiative and the Area Based Rural Development Initiative (a sub-measure of the Regional Operational Programmes). Again, Groups operated in all rural areas of the country, with 35 Groups and 3 National bodies delivering the Programmes.
EU Rural Development Division
Phone: +353 (0)096 24200