Over three hundred people from 23 EU Member States and 70 LEADER Local Action Groups met in Edinburgh last week for a European Cooperation Fair.
One of the requirements of the European Rural Development Programmes is that the LEADER groups – and there are over 2000 of them EU-wide – co-operate with other rural areas to create joint projects which tackle topics in rural development practice.
Transnational co-operation however is a challenging task – ideas have to be generated, the issues have to be thought through and, of course, areas have to be found with which to co-operate. Cooperation fairs –which are organised by the National Rural Network Units – are designed to give people opportunities to meet potential project partners and work is done to unearth the range of potential topics. The range of topics is as wide as the concerns of the programme: local food, renewable energy, small business development, crafts, culture, landscape, local services etc. The task now begins of turning ideas into joint actions.
The Co-operation fair, of course, also generated numerous opportunities for networking – another key requirement of good LEADER practice.
For us at Carnegie UK Trust it also gave us an ideal opportunity to launch our latest publication, A Common Rural Development Policy? This is a study of the role of the successive LEADER programmes in rural development in the UK countries and the Republic of Ireland. There are recommendations on topics such as “maximising the impact of LEADER funding”, “the benefits of continuity”, “advocating a more widespread and systematic use of the approach”, “ensuring compatibility with locally drawn plans”, “decentralising management and decision making” and “networking , learning from each other and knowledge transfer.”
The publication concentrates on the experience of LEADER and advocates the merits of a more widespread and systematic use of the LEADER approach in equipping rural communities to meet the future challenges in rural areas. Electronic copies are available at www.fieryspirits.com
. Hard copies can be requested and are available free of charge from Carnegie UK Trust , Andrew Carnegie House, Pittencrieff Street, Dunfermline , Fife KY12 8AW or email@example.com