Dear ELARD members!

2017 is crucial year for better LEADER/CLLD in the future. ELARD has drawn up a declaration on LEADER/CLLD for the 2021-2027 programming period. This document brings forward key issues that we need to negotiate with European Commission and in Member States.

The role of ELARD members here is very important because you are on the field in your countries and run these discussions with your Managing Authorities and Rural Networks. This is not an easy task but we are only then successful making the desired change in LEADER if we are getting Member States to realize that  turn towards trustful and result oriented LEADER implementation that follows the simple logic of rural people is needed. We need to join our forces and work towards two directions - our members at national level and ELARD at European level.

Main messages of the LEADER/CLLD declaration that we need to communicate are as follows:
1. Bigger role of communities and bottom-up approach in rural development. LEADER/CLLD needs wider platform and in addition to rural development policy it has to be integrated to all relevant EU and national policies.
2. Better and closer dialogue with Commissions and MAs and more efficient solutions to improve the quality of LEADER/CLLD. Trust the experience of LAGs that they have received throughout 25 years. Representative networks of LAGs must be accepted as full partners by MAs and Commission.
3. Empowerment of communities as main purpose of LEADER must come back into focus. Leader principles have to be re-asserted and treated with full respect.
4. Balanced legal framework: correct application of the Leader method in Member States on the one hand and a significant decrease in the bureaucratic burden that lies on LAGs in the other hand.
5. Truly bottom-up implementation of LDS: the flexibility of wide range of development actions has to be assured to LAGs. Good practices where LAGs design their own measures have to be promoted more widely. Selection and approval of TNC projects has to be done by LAGs.
6. Animation activities and capacity building of LAGs and other LEADER actors. We need to use this potential better and create conditions that allow LAGs to concentrate their role of animating their area. Common understanding among LEADER actors about the value of animation and TNC.
7. Simple and harmonized rules: timely definition of simple rules, guidelines, evaluation and IT systems aiming at maximum harmonization between the ESI Funds. All stakeholders are involved. Flexible and open platforms for IT.
8. 3in1 CLLD in Members States: creating one CLLD source of funding using different ESI Funds resources, coordination under one MA followed by one unique set of rules at the EU level.
9. Collegial spirit has to be strenghtened: LAGs and authorities need to be well-trained and made aware of each others realities (study tours, trainings, staff exchange, etc).

Wishing you successful negotiations improving LEADER/CLLD for 2021-2027!

Kristiina Tammets
President of ELARD
LAG manager from South Estonia