LEADER (Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rurale) is a program of European subsidies intended to support local development actions in rural areas. The LEADER program has existed since 1991.
Originally, LEADER was a Community Initiative Program (CIP) through which Europe wanted to experiment with a new approach to rural development, based on participatory democracy as close as possible to the territories (bottom-up approach). Since 2007, it has been a rural development program financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) under the second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Since 1991, there have been several programs : LEADER I, LEADER II, LEADER +, LEADER 2007-2013, LEADER 2014-2022 and currently LEADER 2023-2027.
Seven fundamental principles govern the organization and objectives of the program :
The aim is to rely on a local participative dynamic to define an action strategy adapted to the needs of the territories and the inhabitants and to support a set of projects. This program aims to encourage innovative actions, collective approaches, cooperation projects as well as public-private partnerships in order to enhance the assets of the territory.
The LEADER program is implemented by GAL, GROUP ACTION LOCAL.
With the 2023-2027 program, this is the fifth generation of LEADER program in the Cévennes since 1994 (LEADER II). Currently, France has around 350 GALs. There are 37 GALs in the Occitanie Region. The GAL Cévennes and the GAL Des Cévennes au Rhône, respectively managing the LEADER 2014-2022 and 2023-2027 programs, are both supported by the “LEADER en Cévennes, au fil de l’eau” association.
An animation team of 2 people animates this program. A technical committee made up of technicians from partner structures (consular chambers, Cévennes National Park, EPCI, etc.) examines the files upstream. He provides expertise on the projects presented and helps to obtain the completeness of the files. A programming committee made up of elected officials from the territory and private actors representing companies or associations is the decision-making body for selecting projects and programming grants. It meets 5 times a year and receives project leaders. He also participates in the life of the association.
The GAL defines, for each programme, a strategy broken down into several thematic action sheets. It accompanies project leaders on a daily basis in setting up and monitoring their grant applications and ensures administrative and financial management. LEADER grants can be awarded to both public and private project promoters. These must correspond to the criteria of the GAL’s development strategy and to the different characteristics of the LEADER programme. The grant awarded must come in return for public funding (State, Region, Department, municipalities and communities of municipalities, etc.). The total amount of these subsidies can reach a maximum of 80% of the total amount of the project.