Implementation of the Leader approach for rural development
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- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- AUDIT SCOPE AND APPROACH
- CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
- ANNEX - LIST OF PROJECTS REVIEWED
- REPLY OF THE COMMISSION
Leader is an approach for implementing the EU's rural development policy through local action groups (LAGs). This involves specific costs and risks but promises an added value from following a bottom-up and partnership approach. In this report the Court finds that lags implemented the Leader approach in ways that limited the potential for added value and gave grants to projects without due regard to efficiency. Procedures were not always transparent and did not sufficiently demonstrate that the lags took decisions on an objective basis, free from conflicts of interest. The Commission has not yet demonstrated the effectiveness or efficiency of the expenditure, the added value achieved through following the leader approach, the extent to which the known risks have materialised or the real costs of implementation.