LEADER Programme

The LEADER programme (an acronym in French – Liaison entre actions de développement de l’économie rurale – meaning Links between actions for the development of the rural economy) is a European Union initiative to support rural development projects initiated at the local level in order to revitalise rural areas and create jobs. LEADER I ran from 1991–93, LEADER II from 1994–99, and LEADER+ from 2000-2006. In the current programming period (2014-2020), the LEADER method has been extended to cover not only rural but also coastal (FARNET) and urban areas under the banner of Community-led Local Development (CLLD).

LEADER+ projects are managed by local action groups (LAGs). Each project must involve a relatively small rural area, with a population of between 10,000 and 100,000. In France, the whole country is eligible with the exception of urban areas with over 50,000 inhabitants. France has 140 local action groups.

LEADER+ has three objectives:

  • to encourage experiments in rural development
  • to support cooperation between rural territories: several LAGs can share their resources
  • to network rural areas, by sharing experiences and expertise in the development of rural areas by creating databases, publications and other modes of information exchange

From 1991 until 2001 the LEADER methodology was developed with the support of the European Commission’s technical assistance contractor, AEIDL. LEADER developed seven principles of local development.


Following the vote to leave the European Union in 2016, the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland no long will be able to access the funds from the LEADER Programme. Also, other types of funding from the European Union will also be cut from the date the UK leaves the 28-member bloc.

For more information on the LEADER programme, see below;