LEADER approach is an initiative launched in 1991 in European Union with the main objective to empower relationship between the stakeholders in the development of rural regions. Since then, the initiative has become successful and it spread to almost all regions of the European Union. Funds reserved for rural development and leader approach have been increased from 450 million Euros for the first period from 1991 to 1993 to 5.5 billion Euros for the period between 2007 and 2013.
The leader approach is based on seven key features:
- area based approach – recognition of local particularities;
- organization of local partnerships – Local Action Groups (LAG);
- elaboration and implementation of local strategies;
- Integrated multisector actions – involving stakeholders from different sectors to conduct mutual projects;
- bottom-up implementation approach in decision making at local level by involving all local stakeholders;
- implementation of projects on local, trans-regional and trans-cooperation basis
- Creation of a network that would foster cooperation and knowledge sharing from local to transnational level.
Local Action Group (LAG) as one of the key features of LEADER approach represents local partnership of public, private and civil sector in a particular geographic rural region established under LEADER approach guidelines.
LAG encompasses all inhabitants of at least two units of local self-government with at least 5000 inhabitants up to 150 000 inhabitants. The settlements within LAG cannot have more than 25000 inhabitants.
The main objective of LAGs is to improve the overall development and competitiveness of the particular rural area through the development of local strategies and implementation of mutual development projects.