The Leader approach within the Rural Development Programme /2007 – 2013 in Bulgaria

Leader is a fourth axis within the Rural Development Programme. LEADER is an approach applied on a territorial basis in all rural municipalities /231 municipalities/ on the territory of Republic of Bulgaria. Managing Authority (MA) of the Rural Development Plan for applying the measures of axis 4 for programme period 2007-2013 is Rural Development Directorate. For applying of axis 4 planned are at least 2,6% of the budged of the Rural Development Programme which for the period of 2007 – 2014 are 76,99 million euro (European and national funds).

MA of the Rural Development Programme carries out activities of accepting, reviewing, assessing and approving/ declining the aid applications, conducts procedures of selection of Local Action Groups, controls the execution of LAG’s strategies, approves expenses for management and expenses for acquiring skills and livening the territory of approved and potential LAGs, conducts selection of cooperation projects. LAGs are liable for the assessment, selection, inclusion and contracts and supervision of applied projects of their local development strategies.

The district Payments Agencies perform inspections for compliance before conclusion of the project’s contracts in order to guarantee that the projects meet the criteria for compliance of stated in the EU regulations, the Rural Development Programme and the Local Development Strategies. All payments for realized projects within the framework of the local development strategy of the Local Action Group, the expenses for management, for acquiring skills, projects for livening the territory and cooperation are carried out by the Payments Agency. The control and supervision in applying the local development strategies is carried out by the MA of RDP.

LEADER assists the establishment and functioning of local action groups, enclosing territory with at least 10 000 and maximum of 100 000 citizens (including towns in rural regions) and causes financial aid for development and execution of local development strategies.

The axis covers 3 measures and two sub-measures.

Main instruments for applying the Leader approach are Local Actions Groups and Local Development Strategies.

The local development strategies aim sustainable development of rural regions through diversification of economic activities, preserving the nature and rural regions, development of high-quality services complying with the needs and expectations of the local people.

The minimal budget of a strategy for local development, financed by the public contribution of RDP is 1 000 000 euro and the maximal 2 000 000 euro. It is possible to have an additional funding, but the budget of a strategy, funded by the public contribution of RDP to 2013 shall not exceed 2 500 000 euro.

The local development strategy determines all measures/ activities which will be implemented on the territory of the group as well as the procedures and criteria of selection certain projects. For the execution of the local development strategies LAGs may apply measures by the Regulation of the Council (EU) 1698/2005, measures, selected in RDP as per axis 1, axis 2 and axis 3 except as per axis 1, foreseeing fixed annual payments (measures 112, 141, 142) and measures of axis 2 related with payment schemes for area (211, 212, 214).

May be applied as well other measures/ activities, outside the scope of measures of Regulation of the Council (EU) 1698/2005 if they contribute to the achievement of the purposes of RDP and the local development strategies and are directed towards environment preservation, rural landscape and local identity.

Shall not be applied measures and activities which are not approved by the Managing Authority when selecting LAG.

Eligible applicant for support shall be stated in the local development strategy. The selection of specific projects of LAG begins after the signing of the Contract for managing the local development strategies with the Managing Authority and the Payments Agency.

LAG administrates entirely the application of the strategy and bears complete responsibility for the selection of offers for projects and their negotiation.