The Austrian LEADER-forum is member of ELARD
What is LEADER forum?
- an independent and voluntary association of LEADER action groups (LAG) in Austria.
- the chairwoman / chairman and their management represents the LAG in the LEADER forum
- creates the possibility for official and consistent representation of the LEADER regions in committees, hearings and working groups at national and international level.
- a committee, at implementation level, for agendas around the LEADER approach in Austria.
- committed to the development and strengthening of LEADER and its participatory bottom-up approach
- provides a stable structure which enables seamless communication at EU and national level in both directions (from the LAG to administrative institutions and from the administration level to the LAGs).
- strengthens cooperation between the regions and cooperation with parent networks.
- provides a voice for the LEADER action groups in the creation of work packages or new programme planning documents.
The LEADER forum is therefore a network, were the experiences of the LEADER managers, LAGs and actors are exchanged and documented. It is distributed as a reflection of the practical inside knowledge.
Why do we need it?
The LEADER approach was taken, among others, through the mainstreaming of period 07-13 and resource reduction for 14-20. It continues to be a flagship method for the European Structural Fund. The new period brings more autonomy, but also more control and an ever-increasing bureaucracy. If possible, the systems should be processed as implementation-oriented in collaboration with the administrative bodies. The existing discrepancy between implementation responsibility and ‘having a say’ should be reduced by the LEADER forum. It is possible through the forum that Austria receives a vote from the European LEADER lobbying organisations in Brussels, like ELARD (European LEADAER Association for Rural Development). Most EU member countries within the LEADER regions have a voluntary association to join forces and raise concerns at this level. Austria should follow suit.
How can this be achieved?
A proponent team around the LEADER federal country representative accompanies the founding of the association LEADER forum Austria. The LEADER forum should be an amalgamation of all 77 regions in Austria at the level of the selected LEADER regions. The LEADER forum is a strong sign that this level represents an important voice at the negotiating table, important exchange between LAG management and information and communication networks.
What does this mean for the LAG?
A membership fee of 100 Euro per year can build this independent network in Austria and give the LAGs a stronger voice. LAGs that are members will receive two votes in the LEADER forum. Usually the LAG sends the chairman, chairwoman or representative management of the association.
The LEADER forum will work to influence the implementation of the program in a positive way. The forum also offers the possibility for administrative organisations to profit from the collective experience from all provinces.
There is an expectation that the LEADER forum will create synergies, increase efficiency and ensure that the voice of the LAGs is heard.