Spain’s 2023-2027 LEADER ambitions
Spain's National CAP Strategic Plan (CSP) focuses its LEADER support on promoting the endogenous development potential of rural areas. More than EUR 540 million is available in Spain for Local Action Groups (LAGs) during the 2023-2027 period.
Spain´s National CAP Strategic Plan (CSP) focuses its LEADER support on promoting the endogenous development potential of rural areas. More than EUR 540 million is available in Spain for Local Action Groups (LAGs) during the 2023-2027 period. This represents around double the minimum CSP financial requirement and underscores Spain's ambitious approach in its CSP to implement the full potential of LEADER´s seven principles in the coming years.
As elsewhere around the EU, LAGs in Spain are in their start-up phases and confirming details for implementing a new national set of Local Development Strategies. These provide a network of localised channels for achieving the CAP´s high level objectives. They will also help contribute to the priorities of the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council, which have been noted by the Minister of Agriculture to include promoting strategic autonomy in agri-food as well as the role of rural areas in the EU.
Spanish LAGs hold considerable experience in both agri-food support and wider rural development. Many good practices are available online, including from the Spanish Network for Rural Development and the State Network for Rural Development, which collectively coordinate their assistance for mainland and island LAGs in Spain.
LAGs in action
Sustainable food security is a high priority for Galicia´s Mariñas-Betanzos LAG on the Atlantic coast as the LAG manager, Jorge Blanco, notes when he says: "We want to multiply organic production by four and support short consumption cycles."
The LAG is not only promoting sustainable food production through its new plans for locally-led development projects but is also active in encouraging rural communities to become greener. “We are going to work on everything related to mitigation and the fight against climate change, energy saving, waste management, efficient water management, production with alternative energies, and in the agricultural sector, specifically, improvement of biodiversity and ecological connectivity. This is something that we want to permeate all the projects, so we are going to promote it in the selection criteria, and we are going to have specific actions with the agricultural sector.”
Environmental outcomes are also a key target for many LAGs, including Central Spain's Montes de Toledo LAG in Castile-la Mancha, where entrepreneurship in the bioeconomy will feature prominently. Special importance will be given by the LAG to projects in the Natura 2000 Network with LAG providing capacity building advice to help its efforts to attract project applications that preserve the environment.
Further examples of good practice approaches to LEADER advice can be found in Spain's Andalusia region, where a user-friendly handbook manual has helped the LEADER groups to design consistent and complementary local development strategy frameworks. Equal opportunities are underlined in the Andalusian LAG manual and LEADER groups around Spain are actively acknowledging rural women´s roles through LAG funding priorities and governance arrangements. In Catalonia, for instance, the LEADER consortium providing LAG services in the Baix Ebre and Montsià territory has launched a dedicated Athenea project which aims to empower women and improve the visibility of their vital work in rural communities.
LEADER and the Spanish Presidency
During the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Spanish Managing Authority and networks will be supporting the implementation of the Long-Term Vision of Rural Areas (LTVRA), as well as the role that different agents involved can play in achieving it through the EU´s Rural Pact. There are two actions that Spain is going to promote within this framework:
- a High-Level Forum with the European Commission, under the title´Shaping the future of rural areas´, which will take place between 27-29 September in Sigüenza (Guadalajara) and in which it is expected that political leaders from the different Member States come together, as well as from civil society in rural areas, to network with peers and use opportunities to debate and compare their views on this issue.
- Promotion by the Spanish Presidency of some Council Conclusions on the LTVRA, which will be fed by the results of the forum. This can help highlight the essential role that the LAGs play in the future development of rural territories.
In the development of these two actions, the role of LEADER is considered key by the Spanish networks. They note that: “LEADER and the LAGs will be prominently represented in the High-Level Forum presentations. Representatives of ELARD and different LAGs from Ireland, Germany, Romania and Spain will have the opportunity to share their experience through projects on different topics, of vital importance for the development of rural areas in the EU, such as rural youth, the local empowerment and Smart Villages, and to contrast their experience and visions with that of other agents.” Field visits for the 200+ expected delegates will also be arranged by the Castellano-Manchega Rural Development Network.
We would like to thank the Spanish networks for their help in producing this article. You can discover more about Spain's good practices for using LEADER across its mainland and island territories on the National Network website. Further information provided for this article by the Spanish networks spotlights six more good practice examples that have been published recently on their communication channels.
Name and description: Insectropía, live mealworm farm for livestock and land (Castilla y León)
Responsible LAG: Tierra de Campos Rural Development Collective
Name and description: LAAAB and Made in Rural, selection of youth projects for rural revitalisation (Aragon)
Responsible LAG: Center for the Development of the Regions of the Sea of Aragon (CEDEMAR)
Name and description: Mozarabic Way of Santiago, positioning of this historic route as a destination and improvement of its services
Responsible LAG: Sierra Morena Cordobesa (Andalucía)
Name and description: The people feed me, promotion and encouragement of local consumption of Aragonese products (Aragon)
Responsible LAG: Adefo Cinco Villas
Name and description: Geoparks and georesources for Sustainable Development in rural areas (Andalucía)
Responsible GAL: GDR of Subbética Cordobesa
Name and description: Prácticum Odisseu, paid internships for young people in rural companies in Catalonia (Catalonia)
Responsible LAG: Local Action Groups of Catalonia (does not specify)