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20 years of LEADER in Austria

Why does LEADER exist?

In the context of the EU Structural Fund reform to make the then EEC “internal market-fit” in the mid-80s, there was a concentration of Structural Funds on the economically backward Member States. Despite all this, a small part should be used for the development of peripheral regions in developed Member States (e.g. objective 5b-regions). Around 9% was dedicated to the so-called community initiatives, including LEADER. The LEADER programme was first implemented from 1991 to 1993 under the name “LEADER I” in the then Member States in order to support innovative actions in the field of rural development in their disadvantaged regions.



Area LEADER II 1995-1999

LEADER in Austria

Like many funding programmes, LEADER is also managed in programme periods. Thus, “LEADER II” ran from 1994 – 1999. Since Austria joined the EU in 1995, LEADER II has also been implemented in 31 Austrian LAGs (Local Action Groups) in 5b and objective 1 regions via the multi-fund programme in order to support innovative and exemplary projects for rural development.


Map: LEADER II – 1995-1999
31 LAGs, 17,706km², 694,000 inhabitants
Allocation: € 49 million



Area LEADER+ 2000-2006

In the context of the reform package Agenda 2000, the regulations for EU Regional Funding, among others, were redefined. The General Structural Funds Regulation created four community initiatives, whereby the community initiative LEADER+ served to fund rural innovation. In contrast to the target region programmes, LEADER+ was possible in all rural areas for the first time. Thus, the opportunities, which include the programme for funding rural development, were expanded by an additional innovative dimension.


Map: LEADER+ - 2000-2006
56 LAGs, 46,969km², 2,175,079 inhabitants
Allocation: € 107 million
Details: http://archiv.leader-austria.at/network/leaderplus.html



Area LEADER 2007-2013

During the funding period 2007–2013, LEADER was part of the mainstream funding of the European Union. The programme was financed by the newly created EAFRD fund and it was managed in Austria as part of the Austrian Rural Development Programme as priority 4.


Map: LEADER 2007-2013
86 LAGs, 73,300km², 4,366,032 inhabitants
Allocation: € 504 million
Details: http://www.netzwerk-land.at/leader/leader-in-oesterreich.html




LEADER 2014-2020 is currently running.

Basis for the das LEADER programme


77 LAGs, 4,453,363 inhabitants
Allocation: € 246 million
Details: https://www.bmnt.gv.at/land/laendl_entwicklung/leader/leaderprojekte15.html