Leader+ was one of four initiatives financed by EU Structural Funds and was designed to help rural actors consider the long-term potential of their local region. Rural development should give an impulse to the human and communal resources, the local management, the entrepreneurs and the innovation, and should also contribute to the deliberate and effective cooperation of the population.
The LEADER programme provides tools for the communities themselves, who -more than anybody- are aware of their needs and are willing to implement the long-term development objectives of their own inhabitancies. It enables the residents of smaller settlements to decide on the changes of their own immediate environment.
Prior to the EU accession, Hungary had launched an Experimental Programme for the period 2004-2006 as preparation for entering the LEADER+ Programme. The majority of the work started in summer 2005 when the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development called for the selection of action groups. 70 action groups were granted subsidy in March 2006 to implement their local rural development plans. The action groups covered only 1/3 of the country’s territory. In accordance to their development plans, 85% of the subsidy was obtained by the final beneficiaries through local tendering procedures. Majority of the projects financed by the program are still in implementation. The program continues in the period of 2007-2013. Hungary is a young explorer on a long road, but with good program and plans, by utilizing the financial possibilities and by territorial collaboration, the results will speak for themselves. 96 Local Communities were approved in which the presence of the public sector is in minority besides local enterprises and NGO’s. Planning process is focusing on improving economic value in the frame of axe of rural development, especially tourism, protecting rural heritage, development of micro enterprises, renewal of villages etc. The Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development has implemented singular software in Europe for the planning process. As a first step the program requires the state of the current situation from which it generates problems and gives alternative solutions for them. The needs of local players and the solutions generated by the program should be harmonised at the end of the planning process in order to reach sustainability.
This study reviews the results and difficulties of implementing a rural development plan through the work of the some Development Action Group.