The Community Iniziative L.E.A.D.E.R. is a French acronym, standing for ‘Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie Rurale’, meaning ‘Links between the Rural Economy and Development Actions’.
As the name suggests, it represents a method of mobilizing and delivering rural development in local communities, rather than a fixed set of measures to be implemented.
The LEADER approach represents one of the most important tools elaborated by the European Committee for the development of the rural areas, first as an Community initiative Programme ( LEADER II, LEADER+) , today as Axle of the Rural Development Programs.
Leader II and Leader+ have been conceived as a laboratory to encourage the emergence and testing of new approaches to integrated and sustainable development and to influence, complement and/or reinforce rural development policy in the EU.
The Leader initiative, after having gone through these programming periods, has reached a level of maturity enabling the competent authorities of the Member States and local action groups in rural areas to implement the Leader approach more widely in mainstream rural development programming.
This is why Council Regulation N° (EC) 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EARDF) for the period 2007-2013 contains a fourth "Axis", called the Leader Axis.
The Leader Axis IV 2007-2013
At present the Local Action Group Piana del Tavoliere, having been selected by the Apulia Region for the implementation of the Leader Axis IV 2007-2013, will manage about 9 million euros for the development of its territory. This new LEADER programme covers only the area of municipalities of Cerignola and Stornara.
The Piana del Tavoliere LAG’s strategy, implemented in its Local Development Plan for the new Programme 2007-2013, can be summarized in two important priority themes: exploitation of the local resources and and improving the quality of life in rural areas by the provision of support services for population groups with special attention to socially disadvantaged and vulnerable people such as women, youth and the disabled.
The strategy with its bottom-up approach aims at encouraging a process of local participation in every aspect of development policy with THE involvement of local players. It is aimed at the whole community, promoters of ideas and projects, the civic and voluntary sector, economic and social interest groups and public and private institutions.
Measures under Axis 3 are:
Measure 311: Diversification into non-agricultural activities. Through this measure the LAG aims at promoting the diversification of agricultural activities in the agricultural sector, at encouraging the creation of employment opportunities and at increasing incomes of rural population;
Measure 312: Support for the creation and development of micro-enterprises. This measure aims at promoting growth and creating jobs in non-agricultural micro-enterprises in rural areas, by supporting development and innovation, by ensuring greater dynamism and vitality necessary to promote the local entrepreneurs and by promoting support for social inclusion/integration of the young people, women and vulnerable population;
Measure 313: Encouragement of tourism activities. The objective of this measure is to strengthen the image and identity of the rural LAG area at international, national and local level, by promoting integrated development of rural tourism, quality and typical local products and the rural heritage;
Measure 321: Basic services for the economy and rural population, this measure aims at promoting and improving the living conditions and welfare of those living in rural areas with special attention to socially disadvantaged and vulnerable people;
Measure 323: Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage. The main objective of this measure is to increase the attractiveness of rural areas and to improve the quality of life in rural areas;
Measure 331 Training and Information: this measure aims at improving the system of knowledge and professional skills, information in rural areas and entrepreneurial skills of local operators; this measure helps to reduce the number of young students dropping out of school and to promote the inclusion of the young people, women and people in a situation of exclusion in entering the world of work.