1. Key messages about local development and CLLD in this country
CLLD under EAFRD in Italy is managed on a decentralised basis by the main administrative regions of the country through 21 Rural Development Programmes (RDPs). For the EMFF, there is one national Operational Programme (EMFF OP) but there are still significant differences between regions in implementation rules and progress achieved. As in the previous programming periods, the LAGs are partnerships made up of public and private entities, representative of the various socio-economic entities of the territory. LAG partnerships generally take a legal status (e.g. consortium companies, limited companies, holding foundations, associations etc.) and have an operational structure usually composed of a board of directors and technical staff.
3. Possibility of multi-funding (linking several Funds in one strategy)
In 2014-20, only two Italian regions have used the possibility of multi-funding: Sicily (22 LAGs bringing together EAFRD with ERDF) and Puglia (1 LAG combining EAFRD and ERDF and 9 LAGs linking EAFRD with EMFF).
There are also four transnational mono-Fund LAGs on the Austrian border (using ERDF ETC funding). They cover Italian municipalities in the regions of Lombardy and Friuli Venezia Giulia, as well as in the Province of Bolzano.
4. Number of LAGs
Number of LAGs using this Fund
Total number of LAGs
5. Purposes, objectives for which CLLD is used
Under EAFRD, CLLD is used mainly for operations in sectors of sustainable rural tourism, ecosystem services, care and protection of the landscape, land use and biodiversity, development of supply chain and small-scale innovation of local production systems, including the valorisation of typical local foods and gastronomic identity. Other subjects are also covered but with a minor investment: enhancement of environmental and natural resources, access to essential public services, capacity building.
Under EMFF, support focuses mainly on investments to assist small-scale fishery and to add value to fisheries products, e.g. direct sales and short value chains. Some FLAGs also provide support for pesca-tourism and involve fishers in environmental protection.
The cooperation activated by LAGs is mainly inter-territory rather than transnational.
6. State of play
There is good progress under EAFRD, with FLAGs launching calls and selecting projects in all regions. By mid-2020 there were nearly 900 calls for projects, each call attracting on average 9 applications. Also, under EMFF, after an initial delay, all FLAGs are operational and supporting projects. Discussions have started about preparations for the 2021-27 programme period.
7. Key achievements so far
CLLD under EAFRD (LEADER) is recognised as having a strategic role in promoting territorial cohesion and sustainable, inclusive and intelligent growth of rural areas. It makes a particularly significant contribution in those areas with major structural and socio-demographic problems, such as mountain municipalities and small municipalities.
Under EMFF, in spite of relatively small average FLAG budgets and project budgets, CLLD has demonstrated that it is an important driver and laboratory for innovation in the sector of small-scale fisheries. FLAGs have also successfully raised the visibility of the fishing sector and improved its integration in local development and governance of coastal areas.
8. Key barriers encountered
Irrespective of the source of CLLD funding, the main barriers are related to the bureaucracy and administrative complexity in the national and regional delivery systems. Some regional authorities strongly restrict the autonomy of the LAGs (for example not allowing them to design their own measures adapted to the local needs and strategic objectives).
The quality of the local partnerships – which is a key factor of success in CLLD – varies greatly. Over the years, the process of LAG and FLAG selection by managing authorities has not been able to promote a higher quality, for example by motivating the local communities to select the best qualified (F)LAG managers. Moreover, while the system of capacity building for LEADER LAGs is relatively mature and efficient, that for FLAGs remains inadequate.
9. Some national specificities
Italy is characterised by a very high number of both LAGs and FLAGs, and, in the case of FLAGs, their relatively low budgets. The numerous local partnerships are also highly diverse as regards thematic focus and operational efficiency. Some of the more active LAGs and FLAGs have a particularly strong track record in networking and exchanging both at national and at European level.
There are also major differences in the implementation models between regions, making it extremely difficult to speak of a single “Italian model” of CLLD.
This new country profile, the 18th in this LDnet series on CLLD in Europe, offers an overview of CLLD in Italy in the 2014-2020 period and beyond: local development approach, use of EU funds, number of LAGs, achievements so far, barriers encountered, national specificities. December 2021
Author: Rosalba La Grotteria, Carlo Ricci, Franco Mantino, Urszula Budzich-Tabor
Series coordination and editing: Urszula Budzich-Tabor, Stefan Kah, Haris Martinos