Community-led local development

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Community-led local development - CLLD

Community-led local development (CLLD) is based on the experience of LEADER under rural development, and can complement and enhance the delivery of public policies for all CSF Funds. It aims at increasing effectiveness and efficiency of territorial development strategies by delegating decision-making and implementation to a local partnership of public, private and civil society actors. Community-led local development should be implemented in the context of a strategic approach followed by public policy-makers, to ensure that the ‘bottom-up’ definition of local needs takes account of priorities set at a higher level. Member States will therefore have to define the approach to community-led local development across the CSF Funds and should include references to community-led local development in the Partnership Contracts. The Partnership Contract should detail the main challenges that Member States intend to tackle, setting out the main objectives and priorities and indicate the types of territories where this approach should be implemented and which specific role will be attributed to the local action groups in its delivery. In addition, they should indicate how the CSF Funds will be used together and explain the role envisaged for the different Funds in different types of territories (rural, urban etc.). Under the EAFRD, LEADER will continue to be a compulsory element in each rural development programme.

Source: Commission staff working document: Elements for a Common Strategic Framework 2014 to 2020: the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, SWD(2012) 61 final, Brussels, 14.3.2012, p. 9

Excerpts from the Commission's cohesion policy factsheet, March 2012


Over the past 20 years, the LEADER approach to community-led local development (CLLD) – based on the experience of an initiative financed by EU Structural Funds, designed to help rural actors consider the long-term potential of their local region, has proven an effective and efficient tool in the delivery of development policies. The European Commission has promoted this delivery method through other Community Initiatives also, such as URBAN and EQUAL. In the case of LEADER, for which continuous EU support has been provided since 1991, it has become an important element of rural development policy with a high level of acceptance all over Europe. Since 2007, local development has also been a policy delivery tool in the European fisheries sector.

The draft regulation (Articles 28-31) for future CLLD are based on the LEADER approach and concern all the Funds covered by the Common Strategic Framework (European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund, European Agricultural Fund for Regional Development, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and Cohesion Fund) in the 2014-2020 programming period (the CSF Funds). CLLD is a specific tool for use at sub-regional level, which is complementary to other development support at local level. CLLD can mobilise and involve local communities and organisations to contribute to achieving the Europe 2020 Strategy goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, fostering territorial cohesion and reaching specific policy objectives.

What is proposed?

The Commission proposes a single methodology regarding CLLD for the CSF Funds, which:

  • focuses on specific sub-regional territories;
  • is community-led, by local action groups composed of representatives of local public and private socio-economic interests;
  • is carried out through integrated and multi-sectoral area-based local development strategies, designed taking into consideration local needs and potential; and
  • includes innovative features in the local context, networking and, where appropriate, co-operation.

This single methodology will allow for connected and integrated use of the Funds to deliver local development strategies.

Main aims of community-led local development

The main aims of the Commission proposal are to simplify and expand the use of CLLD as a development tool. The CLLD proposals will:

  • encourage local communities to develop integrated bottom-up approaches in circumstances where there is a need to respond to territorial and local challenges calling for structural change;
  • build community capacity and stimulate innovation (including social innovation), entrepreneurship and capacity for change by encouraging the development and discovery of untapped potential from within communities and territories;
  • promote community ownership by increasing participation within communities and build the sense of involvement and ownership that can increase the effectiveness of EU policies; and

assist multi-level governance by providing a route for local communities to fully take part in shaping the implementation of EU objectives in all areas.

The key components of community-led local development

The local action groups should be made up of representatives of local public and private socio-economic interests, such as entrepreneurs and their associations, local authorities, neighbourhood or rural associations, groups of citizens (such as minorities, senior citizens, women/men, youth, entrepreneurs, etc.), community and voluntary organisations, etc. Civil society and private sector partners should have at least 50 % of the decision-making power and no single interest group should have more than 49% of the votes.

The local development strategies need to be coherent with the relevant programmes of the CSF Funds through which they are supported. They should define the area and population covered by the strategy; include an analysis of the development needs and potential of the area, including a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) analysis; and describe the objectives, as well as the integrated and innovative character of the strategy, including targets for outputs or results. The strategies should also include an action plan demonstrating how objectives are translated into concrete projects, management and monitoring arrangements, and a financial plan.

The area and population coverage of a given local strategy should be coherent, targeted and offer sufficient critical mass for its effective implementation. It is up to the local action groups to define the actual areas and population that their strategies will cover, but they must be consistent with criteria that the Commission will lay down through a delegated act. For reference, the 2007-2013 provisions concerning the population coverage under the LEADER programme aim at a minimum population of 10 000 and maximum of 150 000. The average population concerned by the URBAN II programmes funded by the ERDF in the 2000-2006 period was approximately 30 000 inhabitants.

What is new?

In the 2014-2020 programming period, the more explicit support, in the form of a joint legal framework and harmonised rules for the five CSF Funds, will increase consistency and encourage the creation of multi-Fund local community-led strategies. Several features in the Common Provisions for the CSF Funds are aimed at simplifying the implementation of community-led local development for the beneficiaries: A single methodology for CLLD will be applicable across all Funds and regions – enabling all territories to benefit from EU support for capacity building, local public private partnerships and their strategies, networking and exchange of experience;

Support from the CSF Funds will be consistent and coordinated. This will make it easier for beneficiaries to create multi-Fund strategies better adapted to their needs and areas, for instance, in an area that contains both rural and urban aspects. This will be ensured through coordinated capacity-building, selection, approval and funding of local development strategies and local action groups; Lead Fund: In the case of multi-Fund strategies, there will be the possibility to finance the running costs and organisation of the local development strategy through one single Fund (i.e. the Lead Fund); Incentives: In terms of cohesion policy, for those Operational Programmes where an entire priority axis is delivered through CLLD, the maximum co-financing rate from the ERDF and/or the ESF at the level of a priority axis will be increased by 10 percentage points.(5) In the case of EAFRD, depending on the circumstances, the maximum co-financing rate for CLLD can vary between 80 % and 90 %(6) and for the EMFF the maximum co-financing rate is 75 %.(7) [..]

What are the implications of the proposed common methodology?

As community-led local development is area-based and can be financed by the different CSF Funds, it is an ideal methodology for building linkages between urban, rural and fisheries areas. Member States will need to specify in their partnership contract how they intend to support CLLD and indicate in which programmes and areas CLLD may be used. While CLLD is optional for the ERDF, the ESF, and the EMFF, it is compulsory for the EAFRD.

As the CLLD strategies created by local action groups may cover operations for one or more Funds, there needs to be consistency and coordination between the Funds. Member States and Managing Authorities will have to define the criteria for the selection of local development strategies and ensure that calls and procedures are coordinated between the Funds. Selection and approval of the strategies will be carried out by a joint committee set up for this purpose by the Managing Authorities concerned, which will ensure that multi-Fund strategies receive coordinated funding for the complete strategy.

The deadline for selection and approval of local strategies is the end of 2015. As there is no automatic ‘carry-over’ from this funding period into the next, existing local action groups from the EAFRD and the EFF will have to submit new strategies. The new proposals also allow for the existing local action groups to consider widening their local strategies to include the use of other CSF Funds.

In those areas in which the Member States indicate that CLLD may be used, they and the Managing Authorities will need to engage in capacity-building activities to ensure that local communities, especially those in vulnerable areas with limited capacity, are enabled to fully participate. This can be achieved by building local action groups and formulating viable strategies.

Potential local action groups need to engage in dialogue, at an early stage, with the relevant Managing Authorities to make sure that their needs and concerns are known and can be taken into account in the design of the programmes.

Case studies of CLLD in the European Social Fund


Source: See also AEIDL page:

Common guidance of the European Commission DGs AGRI, EMPL, MARE & REGIO on community-led local development in European Structural and Investment Funds, 30 Jan 13