LEADER 30 years celebration & conference



About the event

After thirty years of working with LEADER, it is time to celebrate our successes, but also to look forward! We will take a look on successful LEADER-implementation during 30 years, but also investigate how we can work for local democracy and participatory approaches all over rural Europe in order to build a viable Europe.

The conferenceday will be livestreamed. The speeches and panel debate, will be recorded and uploaded after the conference. If you have any questions regarding the conference, please feel free to send an email to elard@elard.eu

Namnlös design (11)


We have finally published a page with all documentation


The conclusions of the conference have now been summarized


30 of November - Arrival Day

Arrival of the participants in Halmstad, Sweden

(General Assembly ELARD at 15:00 CET)

19:00 – Welcome dinner at Halmstads Theater


1 of December - Conference Day at Halmstad Theater

09:00 – Opening ceremony at Halmstad Theater
(Ms Marion Eckardt, Ms Mia Lundquist, Ms Sofia Björnsson, Mr Tore Holmefalk, Mr Jonas Bergman, Ms Mikaela Waltersson,  Ms Dubravca
Šuica (videorecording), Mr Janusz Wojciechowski (videorecording))

10:00 – Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long term Vision of Rural Areas.

Presentation of the state of Play on the LTVRA (Ms Alexia Rouby – DG AGRI)

Presentation of survey results (Ms Marion Eckardt)

10:40-11:15 Coffeebreak

11:15 Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long Term Vision of Rural Areas – Panel

Panel on the implementation process  with Mr Mihail Dumitru, Mr Jozef Stahl, Mr Niklas Nienass, Mr Radim Sršeň, Mr Toma Šutić, Ms Kristina Yngwe, Mr Mattias Moberg, Ms Marion Eckardt. Moderator: Ms Kristiina Tammets

13:15-14:15 LUNCH

14:15 Future LEADERs

Personal encounters from Ms Lana Chanundeli and Ms Sima Benni

Panel of future LEADERs  with Mr Niklas Nienass, Ms Sima Benni, Ms Elinoora Takala, Mr Leotrim Gёrmizaj, Ms Aiva Ķīšiniece, Ms Lana Chanundeli , Ms Amelie Krug, Mr David Canaveira

15:30 – 16:00 Coffee break

 15:45 Smart Villages and LEADER

Presentations of Smart village Veberöd (Mr/Ms Malmgren), Torup Village (Mr Peter Plant) and Startup village Tirol (Mr Stefan Niedermoser)

16:45 – Closing Session

Reflections and conclusions from Ms Iwona Lisztwan and Ms Marion Eckardt

Practical information around the second Day

17:15 End of Plenary

18:30 – Bus leaves for dinner from Halmstads Teater to Hotel Tylösand

Dinner with local food. Entertainment and programme from several members of ELARD

2 of December - Excursion and celebration

08:30 – Buses leave for excursions

6 different tours will be operated and participants will get asked to choose their preference at a later stage

16:00 – Return of buses to Halmstad

19:00 – Celebration dinner and PARTY at Halmstad Theater

Celebration speech from Mr Mihail Dumitru and several contributions from members of ELARD

Tonight’s band

After Dinner,
Celebration continues at the bar Fox and the Anchor – conference participants enjoy free entrance and the bar serve the LEADER 30 years drink!

3 of December - Departure Day


21-07-02 Suica portrait

Dubravka Šuica

The Vice President of the European Commission

Video recorded Opening Speech

Janusz Wojciechowski

Janusz Wojciechowski

European Commissioner for Agriculture

Video recorded Opening Speech

More info about Janusz

Janusz Wojciechowski – European Commissioner for Agriculture
Member of the European Commission since 1 December 2019, responsible for Agriculture. Lawyer; Attorney.

Commissioner Wojciechowski grew up on a farm in Rawa Mazowiecka, a rural community in the Łódzkie region in central Poland. He holds a Master’s degree in law, having graduated from the University of Łódź Department of Law and Administration. His professional career as a judge spanned different levels up to membership of the Supreme Court of Poland. From 1995 to 2001 he held the important post of President of the Polish Supreme Audit Office.

From 2001 to 2004, he represented the Łódzkie constituency as a Member and also Vice-Marshal of the Parliament of the Republic of Poland – the Sejm. From June 2004 until May 2016, he served three terms as a Member of the European Parliament. He sat as a Member of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals from his first term and from 2014 to 2016 he was President of the Intergroup.

From May 2016 to November 2019, he was a Member of the European Court of Auditors.

Commissioner Wojciechowski has been the author and co-author of five comments on the Polish Penal Code, as well as the author of more than 100 articles and publications on criminal law in various Polish legal magazines. He also writes on socio-legal issues.


Marion Eckardt

President of ELARD & host of this conference

Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long term Vision of Rural Areas

More info about Marion

Born and raised in Sweden she left the country when she was 20 for a life in international waters. She graduated from the Humboldt-University of Berlin in Geography, Agriculture, Geoinformatics and Environmental Management in 2002, and started an international career in participatory rural development.

2009 she moved back to rural Sweden to live with her family and to work as a LAG-manager in CLLD Halland, southwestern Sweden. 2013 she co-founded LUS, the national LEADER-network of Sweden and she is now the current president of ELARD 2020-21.

Mihail Dumitry

Mihail Dumitru

Deputy Director-General

Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long term Vision of Rural Areas

Celebration speech

More info about Mihail

Romanian nationality. Agriculture economist specialised in agrifood economics and rural development. Postgraduate studies in France and Greece at the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies. Ph D in economics.

After graduation of Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, Romania he worked three years in a large state owned farm in Prahova county, South Romania. After the farm experience moved into economic research carrying research studies in agricultural economics and rural economics at the Institute of Agricultural Economics Bucharest a constituent institute of Romanian Academy where he was head of a research department. In 1995 joined the Delegation of the European Commission in Bucharest where he followed the whole process of Romania’s accession to the EU being in charge with agriculture and other related sectors. In the last years prior to accession he headed the section of the Delegation in charge of Agriculture and Internal market. In 2006 he joined DG AGRI where he was in charge of negotiation of the first rural development programme (2007-2013) of Romania co-financed by EAFRD.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural development of Romania in 2009-2010 he re-joined the European Commission in early 2011 where he took over a directorate in charge of Rural development programmes. In February 2014 he became Deputy Director General responsible for rural development and research. Since January 2017 he is DDG responsible for CAP direct support, rural development and sustainability.


Niklas NIENASS in the EP in Brussels

Niklas Nienass

Member of the European Parliament 

Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long term Vision of Rural Areas

Future LEADERs

More info about Niklas

Niklas Nienaß, born in 1992 in Marl/NRW, lives in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania since 2013, describes himself as child of the German reunification and as European. Since July 2019 he is Member of the European Parliament for Alliance 90/The Greens. As one of the youngest MEPs Nienaß is coordinator for the group Greens/EFA in the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) as well as member in the Committee on Culture and Education. Moreover, he is substitute member of the Committee on Institutional Affairs and board member of the RUMRA & Smart Village Intergroup and member of the SEARICA Intergroup. In addition he is member of the parliamentary delegations for Albania as well as Central Asia and Mongolia.

In REGI he was shadow rapporteur for the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) of the whole cohesion policy package as well as for the Just Transition Fund. In his work on Regional Development, he focuses on the development of rural areas and on bottom-up approaches to improve the involvement of citizen in the implementation progress of regional funding.

Toma photo (002)

Toma Šutić

European Commission, Cabinet of the Vice President, Brussels

Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long term Vision of Rural Areas


Jozef Stahl

European Commission, Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy 

Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long term Vision of Rural Areas

More info about Jozef

Jozef STAHL has worked in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy since 2003, currently advising the Deputy Director General for Implementation. Previous experiences in DG Regional Policy include posts in geographical units (Poland, Slovakia) and the unit for financial instruments.

Before joining the European Commission he worked in the Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the EU, the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Energy Agency.


Alexia Rouby

Policy officer at European Commission’s DG Agriculture and rural development

Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long term Vision of Rural Areas

More info about Alexia

Alexia is an agro-economist with over 18 years of experience, first in national and European network coordination, rural policy analysis and project management, and since 2014 in the European Commission, where she was responsible for programming research and innovation on rural and social dynamics, social innovation, participatory and territorial approaches in DG AGRI’s research and innovation unit. She joined on 1st November 2021 the rural development coordination unit to work on the long-term vision for rural areas.

Radim Sršeň

Member of the European Committee of the Regions

Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long term Vision of Rural Areas

More info about Radim

Member of the European Committee of the Regions, Vice-chairman of the NAT Commission, Mayor of the Municipality of Dolní Studénky (since 2010), member of the Council of Olomouc Region (since 2016), chairman of the LAG Šumperský venkov, university teacher.

Born in a true rural region in the North-East of the Czech Republic. After graduating from bilingual Czech-English grammar school he achieved a master degree in International and European Studies – Diplomacy at the University of Economics in Prague, where he continued also with his Ph.D. degree in International Political Studies, which he successfully graduated in 2011. Since 2011 he is an assistant professor at the University of Economics in Prague specialising in the European Union and the United Nations. After his studies he returned back to his born region, establishing LAG Šumperský venkov in 2008, working first as a LAG manager and later LAG chairman. His passion in LEADER brought him also on the European level, serving as a president of the European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD) in 2014-2015 and as its vice-president in 2013 and 2016. Since 2010 he is a mayor of the Municipality of Dolní Studénky, since 2013 also a vice-chairman of the Association of Local Governments of the Czech Republic. Since 2017 he has been a representative of the Czech Republic in the European Committee of the Regions focusing on topics of rural development, LEADER/CLLD, smart villages, EU territorial agenda and regional policy. He has also participated in rural development projects in Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He is married, having small son Radim. His hobbies include family, travelling, music (he is a passionate trombone player) and sport. His life motto is an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, come together…”

Iwona Lisztwan (002)

Iwona Lisztwan

Policy coordinator LEADER in the European Commission 

Closing of the day session, conclusions and reflection on LEADER

More info about Iwona

Iwona Lisztwan is coordinating the LEADER/CLLD approach in the European Commission in DG AGRI. She likes looking for new and better ways of doing things in rural development and beyond. She believes that people, their skills and motivation are in the centre of development process.

Previously, Iwona had been working on rural development in Poland and Turkey for more than 15 years. Her PhD on cohesion aspects of rural development alongside with degrees in linguistics and an MBA serve her well in daily work.


Mattias Moberg

Deputy Director-General
Ministry of Enterprise
Division for Regional and Rural development

Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long term Vision of Rural Areas

Jonas Bergman 01

Jonas Bergman

Politician and chairman of the city council in Halmstad municipality.

Welcome Session

More info about Jonas

Jonas Bergman is a politician and since 2018 chairman of the city council in Halmstad municipality.

Jonas was born in Gothenburg, but moved to Halmstad for university studies. Since then he has a special interest in the key role that the university has for regional development in Halland.

Jonas has a background in the IT sector and also has a great interest in digital transformation and the development of digital infrastructure, which is essential for the Halland region to be a strong region in the future. Halland’s geographical position gives us the best of opportunities with easy access to the best of multiple worlds, and Jonas sees his job as a politician to facilitate this access this access with e.g. infrastructure for physical and digital communications.

Kristina Yngwe

Kristina Yngwe

Member of the Swedish Parliament (Center Party). 

Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long term Vision of Rural Areas

More info about Kristina

Member of the Swedish Parliament (Center Party). Chairperson of the Committee of Environment and Agriculture. Agronomist and Farmer.


Leotrim Gërmizaj

Authorized representative of NORDK 

Future LEADERs

More info about Leotrim

Leotrim Gërmizaj was born in 14 October 1990 in Prizren, Republic of Kosovo.
Currently, he is in charge as a National Coordinator of Network of Organizations for Rural Development of Kosovo. His experience includes programs, projects, campaigns and activities in national, regional, European level in the field of rural development, local development, youth participation and gender inclusion, green economy and sustainable development.

Leotrim Gërmizaj is member of executive board of PREPARE since General Assembly in November 2018 and appointed as a member of Steering Group of European Rural Parliament since December 2018. As a representative of NORDK which is co-founder network of Balkan Rural Development Network, he is actively engaged in all forums of BRDN.

Leotrim is authorized representative of NORDK at the ELARD structures.
Related to the education aspect, he is Graduated Lawyer from University of Prishtina, where he is finalizing Master studies on Administrative and Constitutional Law, as well.

He gradudated on Executive Master in European Union Studies organized by Centre international de formation européenne, in Berlin, Germany in cooperation with University of Cologne. Leotrim fluently can speak English and Albanian Language.

image_72192707 (2)

Mikaela Waltersson

Chairperson of the Regional Board, Halland Region

Welcome Session

More info about Mikaela

Mikaela Waltersson is a politician from Halmstad with long experience and a great interest in development issues close to the everyday life of the “Hallännings”. She has previously been union chairperson of the Moderates in Halland, long-time member of the municipal council and chairperson of the social committee in Halmstad municipality.

Since 2018, she is the chairperson of the regional board in Halland. She is also vice chairperson and spokesperson for infrastructure issues in the Swedish-Danish cooperation organization Greater Copenhagen.

Ellinoora Takala Leader Aisapari

Ellinoora Takala

Transnational Cooperation Coordinator at Leader Aisapari

Future LEADERs

More info about Ellinoora

Ellinoora Takala is 29 years old. She graduated from the University of Jyväskylä as an English teacher. She has been working since 2019 as an international coordinator in the Leader Aisapari Rural Development Association.

David Canaveira


Future LEADERs

More info about David

My name is David and I am 28 years old. In 2016 I concluded a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography, by the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning of the University of Lisbon, where I concluded a Masters in European Policies for Development and Socio-Territorial Cohesion in 2019. In 2018/2019 I carried out a professional internship at MINHA TERRA Network, that brings together all Portuguese LAGs, currently being part of the organization’s team, where I follow national and European rural development policies and technically support the work of the LAGs. I reside in the outskirts of Lisbon but during the COVID-19 pandemic I moved to my parents’ homeland, in a small rural town in central Portugal, carrying out my functions by teleworking.

Sima Benni

Project manager at Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan

Future LEADERs

More info about Sima

My name is Sima, 20 years old and I am passionate about technology and entrepreneurship. I have run quite a few projects including LiveByYouth festival and Human Foosball plan project with Lokalt Ledd Utveckling Halland.

I work as a project leader where I help teenagers to run their own association or start a study circle.It is so important for me to be able to share my knowledge and my experiences to help teenagers understand how democratic processes work. By being a part of different boards, running projects and running my own UF company, I grew up as a person and developed a lot in a short time. Because I got opportunities and the right help to be able to be myself and decide over my free time, I want to continue working to give the same opportunities to others

Amelie Krug

Amelie Krug


Future LEADERs

More info about Amelie

Amelie Krug holds a Bachelor’s degree in European Ethnology and Social Sciences from the Humboldt University in Berlin. As a basis for her bachelor’s thesis, she conducted field research on the project “Living in Sustainable Villages” initiated by the German Ecovillage Network, GEN Germany. This project inspired her to explore the question of barriers to, and opportunities for a sustainable transformation of the food system in the region of her case study. The solutions practiced in ecovillages emerged as promising models to address sustainability problems in rural areas and in the global food system. She was an elected ECOLISE (European Network for Community-led initiatives on Climate Change and Sustainability) Council member from 2019-2021 and has contributed to the network’s strategic development and advocacy work in that role. In October 2020 she joined the ECOLISE policy team as an intern at the office in Brussels, continuing her political work for the network while focusing on agricultural and rural development within the EU. She recently began a Master’s programme in Environmental Governance at the University of Freiburg, Germany.


Lana Chaduneli

Georgian Association of Local Action Groups 

Future LEADERs

More info about Lana

Lana Chaduneli is 23 years old. She was born and raised in Georgia. In 2020 she graduated from Tbilisi State University, faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication and moved to Tbilisi for her studies. In 2015 she became a member of Borjomi LAG, created under the framework of the ENPARD project, thus LAG gave her back to her city.

In 2018, for two years, she was selected as a chairperson of Georgian Association of Local Action Groups (GALAG) and still remains as an active member. Since 2017, she has been working as a certified trainer as an Advisor in professional orientation and career guidance services. Now she lives and works in Tbilisi, however during her free time, she delivers voluntary trainings and shares experiences with school children in her municipality.


Aiva Apša-Ķīšeniece

Project manager in local municipality and technical school

Future LEADERs

More info about Aiva

My name is Aiva, 38 years old. As far as I can remember myself, I have been passionate about nature, environment, local community. While being part of Friends of the Earth and Foundation for Environmental Education, I had the opportunity to work on national and international environmental campaigns, mostly connected with common agriculture policy and promoting organic agriculture.

Now, when i am back in my home town, I work as project manager in local municipality and technical school, focusing on community development issues and youth.

Ophavsret beskyttet billede, Personale foto fra AU

Peter Plant

Associate Professor Aarhus University and inhabitant of Torup Village, Denmark

Inspiring example of Torup village

More info about Peter

Professionally, professor, Dr. Peter Plant has worked in the field of career education and counselling since 1974 in schools, higher education insti¬tutions, and in the employment service in Denmark. He has worked as a researcher in many European projects on career guidance, as a consultant to the EU-Commission, and to the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN), and in various academic guidance related capacities in many countries. His latest assignment was his professorship at the University of South-East Norway.

He and his wife run an ecological farm, a local farmers’ market, and a small booktown, recycling second hand books. He is active in rural policies, the chairman of the local village council, and the chairman of LAG Halsnæs-Gribskov in his home country, Denmark.



Hochfilzen - Die Klimamodellregion Pillerseetal-Leogang stellt sich vor. Bereits durchgeführte Maßnahmen: Leader-Energieservice mit Beratungsmodulen, mobile Photovoltaik-Testanlage, Thermographieaufnahmen.

Stefan Niedermoser

General manager LAG Region, Chair of LEADER-Forum Austria

Inspiring example of Startup village Tirol

Linn och tim

Tim Malmgren & Linn Malmgren

Founder of Smart Village Sweden & co founder of Young Smart Village Sweden

Inspirational example of Smart Village Veberöd

More info about Tim & Linn

Tim Malmgren, product designer and entreprenour, founded the Village website at only 11 years old and has also founded Smart Village Sweden together with his father Jan Malmgren.

Linn Malmgren, law student is co founder and chairman of Young Smart Village Sweden. A communicty for young people that wants to be part of making a sustainable world.


Kristiina Tammets

Head of ELARD Knowledge Exchange Platform

Moderator at Stock-taking on the implementation of the Long Term Vision of Rural Areas

More info about Kristiina

Kristiina Tammets, head of ELARD Knowledge Exchange Platform, vice-chairman of Estonian Leader Union, manager of LAG Tartu County Development Association, Estonia.

Kristiina Tammets has long-term experience of running local, regional, national and international level networks and partnerships in the frame of different projects, initiatives and the LEADER programme implementation. She has been a LAG manager of LAG Tartu County Development Association since 2007. In 2016-2017 she was the President of European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD). She has facilitated comprehensive involvement processes and conducted different pan-European surveys and projects. Since 2016 she has also been working as an expert supporting the implementation of the LEADER approach outside the European Union (Georgia, Moldova, China). Kristiina has trainer certificate in participatory leadership and neurolinguistic programming. Since February 2020 she works as national expert for the smart village project “Preparatory Action on Smart Rural Areas in the 21st Century”. She is vice-chairman of Estonian LEADER Union and responsible for the lead of national CLLD working group and national smart villages working group. She belongs to the worldwide movement Ladies Circle International.

Ulrika Holmgren

Ulrika Holmgren

Coordinator of the Swedish Rural Network

Moderator of the event

More info about Ulrika

After working with destination development in tourism for several years Ulrika has now solely worked with Leader in a variety of roles since 2006. Both as a Leader manager, a coordinator at the managing authority and now as the coordinator of Leader at the Swedish Rural Network. She never stops being amazed of what the bottom-up approach and the power of individuals working together can achieve!

Sofia Björnsson

Member of the Steering group of the Swedish Rural Network

Welcome Session

More info about Sofia

Sofia Björnsson is member of the Steering Group of the Swedish Rural Network where she represents LRF, the Federation of Swedish Farmers. In the Steering group LRF and the Swedish LUS together with 13 other national stakeholders run the Rural Network. Sofia appreciates the neutrality and equality that the network offers for mutual learning and co-operation cross different stakeholders. She has long experience as an expert on the Common Agriculture Policy at LRF. Besides this she is also the Chairperson of the Working party for Rural Development at Copa and Cogeca which is the umbrella organization of farmers’ organisations and cooperatives in the EU.
Mia Lindqvist

Mia Lundqvist

Board member of LUS – Local Development Sweden

Welcome Session

More info about Mia

Mia Lundqvist has a long experience from working with rural development in Sweden. She has been professionally involved in regional and local development for more than 20 years. For the first twelve years after graduating from Umeå University in 1999, she worked within the Örebro County Administrative Board and since 2010 she is the LAG manager of LAG Leader Mälardalen. Since 2017 she is also a board member of LUS, Lokal Utveckling Sverige (Local Development Sweden), the Swedish Leader association.
Tore holmefalk

Tore Holmfalk

Chairperson of Community Led Local Development Halland’s board

Welcome Session

More info about Tore

Tore is a member of Community Led Local Development Halland’s board and working committee. He is a farmer and elected representative in LRF and other associations as well as companies, which means that he is well versed in the Rural Development Fund and the Regional Fund’s areas. Tore has also been self-employed for 30 years in food processing.