The local development programme for rural areas.
LEADER is a European Commission initiative to support the development of rural areas across the European Union (EU). First introduced in 1991, it is designed to complement other rural development programmes. There have been three ‘rounds’ of LEADER as a programme in its own right:
LEADER I (1991 – 1994)
LEADER II (1995 – 1999)
LEADER+ (2000 – 2006)
All have been EU co-financed programmes focused on the economic, social and environmental regeneration of rural communities.
Since 2007 LEADER was built into the Rural Development Programmes of the EAFRD with around 5% of expenditure.
In the 2014-2020 period CLLD (Community-led Local Development) is the new term used for rural development and other programmes following the LEADER approach and can be supported by four of the ESI Funds (the EAFRD, EMFF, ESF and ERDF).