LEADER is the set of measures of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) of Galicia 2014-2020 that is implemented under LEADER methodology. This methodology is being promoted by the European Union since 1991 to decentralize rural development policies, so that the countryside is no longer a simple recipient of these policies but a protagonist of its own development.
Apart from implementing the programmes of the LEADER Community Initiatives (LEADER, LEADER II and LEADER+), other programmes have been carried out in Galicia in the 1991-1994, 1994-1999, 2000-2006 and 2007-2013 periods. These programmes had different funding sources so that they also had different names, such as PRODER, PRODER II or AGADER. All of Galicia’s countryside was covered by these programmes in the 2000-2006 period.
All public or private entities that carry out their activity in the defined territorial areas of the economic, social, cultural, neighbourhood, environmental, professional spheres, mount communities, etc. These entities are not only able to but must be involved in the LEADER programme in their territory.
The LEADER programme in each territory is designed and implemented by a Rural Development Group (RDG). This is an association made up of all entities from the economic, social, cultural, neighbourhood, environmental or professional fields that wish to get involved. These entities work like any non-profit association and must admit any organization from their territory that wishes to participate in the program.
A Rural Development Group prepares a strategy for local development. This strategy includes the main possibilities, opportunities and needs of its territory from the productive, economic, endowment and social point of view, etc. This strategy is presented to the call of the program for the period 2014-2020 of the Galician Agency of Rural Development (AGADER), that is the public entity that manages the LEADER program in Galicia.
The group has a technical structure that is dedicated to the work of dynamization, mobilization and promotion to apply the strategy designed for this territory with the aim of emerging projects that can be financed under the program. The RDG is responsible for analysing and assessing the projects. On this basis, the governing body of the RDG attributes a percentage of the aid taking into account a wide range of preestablished criteria. The decision is transmitted to AGADER, that checks that the allotment complies with the rules. Finally, AGADER decides whether to grant the aid or not.
Any natural or legal person who promotes a project within the scope of action of a Rural Development Group may apply for a subsidy. Thus, promoters do not need to be part of the RGD to obtain funding from the LEADER programme. What should be taken into account is that, depending on the project, there may be additional restrictions set out in the implementing regulations (e.g. large companies are excluded from projects with an economic nature).
The assessment of the RGD will determine the percentage of subsidy for each project. However, for projects of a productive nature – those engaged in the production of market-oriented goods or services – they must never exceed 50% public support. On the other hand, projects of a non-productive nature -those aimed at providing free public services or improving the quality of life in rural areas- may reach 100% financing, although as a general rule the promoter must always make some contribution.
The essential element of the LEADER Methodology is that it is “bottom-up processes”. The development strategy or programme is defined at local or regional level and the decisions, lines of action, projects to be financed…are taken at this level by unions (partnerships) of public and private agents, the Rural Development Groups (RDG). It implies a multi-sector approach, both in the economic dimension, not only in the primary sector, and in the other social dimensions: equipment, services and public grants, cultural heritage, environment, social relations…
It incorporates innovation as a relevant element, not only understood as a technological element, but also as new ways of facing the processes in the territory, the problem solving, the participation and involvement of the population, the satisfaction of needs… A final defining element of the LEADER methodology is the networking and cooperation between territories, since the commitment to a living rural environment involves establishing alliances between different rural territories.
In the framework of the RDG of Galicia 2014-2020, AGADER will process the measure 19 Leader, also covered by Regulation (EU) Nº 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council of 17 December 2013. This measure establishes common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, and repealing Council Regulation (EC) Nº 1083/2006, governs in Title III, Chapter II, participatory local development (PDL)
This action gives continuity to previous LEADER programmes such as the experimental initiative (LEADER I), passing through the LEADER II and LEADER Plus programmes, until it is consolidated in the period 2007-2013 as the axis 4 of the Rural Development Program (RDP) of Galicia.
The LEADER approach aims to implement rural development based on the participation of the territory’s own population, integrating all the economic and human resources and actors that exist in the region of action.
The essential element of the LEADER methodology is that it involves “top-down processes”. Thus, the specific rural development programmes defined at the local level of the territory, the lines of application of the aid and even the projects to be financed are taken in that same field by partnerships of public and private agents.
To ensure this participation of rural society, the Rural Development Groups (RDGs) were set up as non-profit-making bodies, with public and private partners who select the projects that will enable them to carry out their development strategy.
These RDGs therefore imply a multi-sector approach, both in the economic dimension, not only in the primary sector, as in the rest of the social dimensions; equipment, services and public endowments, defence of heritage and environmental values, social relations, networking, etc.
Taking into consideration the specific characteristics of the Galician countryside and the aforementioned objective of contributing to the European 2020 strategy by achieving balanced territorial development, the LEADER approach for the period 2014-2020 in Galicia will be aimed at achieving the following objectives:
In order to extend the application of the LEADER methodology as much as possible, the eligible territory will be all the Galician rural areas, with the exception of the singular entities of population that exceed 6,000 inhabitants in the Atlantic provinces of A Coruña and Pontevedra (with the municipalities of A Coruña and Vigo). Positive discrimination is being implemented in the provinces of Lugo and Ourense, that are considered more rural. For this reason, in the aforementioned provinces of Lugo and Ourense, only singular entities with a population of more than 10,000 inhabitants will be excluded as eligible territory.