The European Commission published a study assessing the impact of LEADER on territorial development. It concluded that LEADER effectively developed solutions to address economic and social development challenges and opportunities at local level.
The study suggests that LEADER’s strongest areas are job creation and maintenance, local added value of products and enterprise modernisation. Enhancing local governance capacities and knowledge within LEADER operations was also identified as a benefit. While only accounting for roughly 7% of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), LEADER demonstrated its relevance and effectiveness in contributing to sustainable rural development across the EU.
The evaluation highlights the importance of information, awareness, clarity and trust to ensure cost-effective and value added results from LEADER in a wide variety of local situations and contexts.
While the findings of the study are positive, certain areas for improvement were identified, particularly with regard to knowledge exchange between different levels of the governance and delivery system. These include improved communication and clarity of roles within LEADER, simplification of procedures, enhanced collaboration and new indicators to better capture LEADER outcomes. This study, along with the replies to the CAP-specific questions of the public consultation on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas, will contribute to an overall evaluation of the impact of LEADER on balanced territorial development, to be published at the end of 2022.