ARC2020 today warmly welcomed the news that the Council of Ministers has reached agreement on the regulations related to Territorial Development. These regulations, which also have support in the European Parliament, provide a basis for achieving, throughout Europe from 2014 onwards, a far more integrated approach to local development than has been possible under the present regime of fragmented action under the different EU funds.
The essence of the proposal is that Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) should be adopted as a widespread means of delivery of all the major development funds – Regional, Cohesion, Social, Rural and Fisheries. CLLD builds on the experience of LEADER in the rural development field, but should enable Local Action Groups to operate more flexibly than now and to call down funds not only from the Rural budget but also, where appropriate, from the other major funds.
This is part of a larger policy change proposed by the Commission, which will see the production at EU level of a Common Strategic Framework for the five major funds; the preparation by each Member State of a national Partnership Agreement, to show how the common strategic framework will operate within that country; and the reflection of that partnership agreement in the Operational Programmes related to each major Fund.
Opportunity for Rural Renaissance…
The European Council’s vision of territorial development may contribute powerfully to the renaissance of rural areas which ARC has been advocating as a key element in Europe’s recovery. It may lead to what we have been calling for, namely the creation, in all the rural sub-regions of Europe which need integrated local development, of a family of Local Action Groups or sub-regional development agencies which are able to deliver all relevant measures and resources within the Rural Fund and other EU and national funds, and which are not constrained by boundaries between urban and rural areas.
This is ARC’s vision. It is not a certainty. Only the Rural Fund obliges member states to commit a minimum of 5% of funding to CLLD, but even here there is as yet no guidance on the scope of the measures that may be delivered by sub-regional partnerships. In the other major funds, CLLD is simply an option which member states may or may not choose.
We call upon Member States to grasp the true potential of integration between major funds and of multi-funded sub-regional partnerships and strategies. We urge the Commission to bring forward soon the crucial guidance on the transition from LEADER groups to CLLD partnerships. We look to our own wide range of partner organisations to prepare themselves to play a full part in those future partnerships.
See earlier stories on ARC here: