LEADER approach in Moldova: from pilot project to sustainable National Programme | EEAS Website – EEAS

LEADER is an EU initiative, a method and programme instrument launched in 1991 to address the problems of rural areas through a community-led bottom-up development approach. The initiative is designed to boost local economic growth, particularly the growth of micro and small businesses, in rural areas. The key actors of all local LEADER/Community-Led Local Development initiatives are the so-called Local Action Groups (LAGs), a territorial partnership of local actors engaged to actively shape their future through local actions.
The European Union has been supporting the LEADER approach in the Republic of Moldova since 2016 and it turned out to be a sustainable and long-lasting initiative, having been transformed into a State programme in June 2022 and covering more than half of the Moldovan territory. 
37 LAGs in the Republic of Moldova were selected to receive funding between 2022 – 2023 to support socio-cultural initiatives, as well as local entrepreneurs in starting up and expanding local businesses. The total funding amounts up to EUR 8,800,000 and is provided from the National Fund for Agriculture and Rural Development of the Republic of Moldova. 
The pathway of LEADER institutionalisation in Moldova has been a lengthy one. Thanks to the support provided by the European Union and other donors, including USAID and Polish Aid, LAGs have become an effective tool for local community development in rural regions of Moldova – currently the only country, outside the EU, to implement the LEADER approach as a public policy instrument for rural development. One of the greatest achievements of Moldova is the acknowledgment of the LEADER approach by the government: the recognition of Local Action groups as a specific legal entity that allows to finance ‘LAG-partnerships’ from the state budget. As a result, in June 2022, the first LEADER Call for funding from national resources was launched: LAGs registered in Moldova can now receive grants of up to 5% from the National Fund for Agriculture and Rural Development, administered through the National Payment Agency of the Ministry of agriculture and food industry.
The National LEADER Network, together with the 47 LAGs it represents, has been developing local community projects that have mobilised local resources (local co-funding as well as human resources), revitalised rural regions and stimulated the development of a legal framework. This has enabled the LEADER approach to be adjusted to the local context and implemented on a large scale through the National LEADER Programme. The overall aim of the Programme is to strengthen the LAGs as independent and sustainable partnerships of Local public authorities, Civil Society and private sector representatives, which implement the jointly formulated Local Development Strategies on their territories in a systemic way.


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