is a local development method which has been used for 30 years to engage local actors in the design and delivery of strategies, decision-making and resource allocation for the development of their rural areas.

LEADER in Europe

It is implemented by around 2 800 Local Action Groups (LAGs), covering 61 % of the rural population in the EU and bringing together public, private and civil-society stakeholders in a particular area (situation as of end 2018 – EU-28).
The LEADER approach was introduced in response to the failure of traditional, top-down policies to address problems faced by many rural areas in Europe. The acronym ‘LEADER” derives from the French phrase “Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rurale” which means, ‘Links between activities for the development of rural economy”. The idea was to engage the energy and resources of people and local organisations as development actors rather than beneficiaries, empowering them to contribute to the future development of their rural areas by forming area based Local Action Group (LAG) partnerships between the public, private and civil sectors.
The LEADER approach or method is based on seven specific features and is dependent on all of these being present and employed together. These seven features define LEADER as a methodology and separate it from being simply a funding programme.