European Court of Auditors. Special Report 10/2022: LEADER and community-led local development facilitates local engagement but additional benefits still not sufficiently demonstrated (OJ C 265/04, 11.7.2022)
LEADER is the EU’s participatory and bottom-up approach to involve local communities in project development and decision-making processes. It involves extra costs and risks compared to mainstream (top-down) EU spending programmes. We examined whether the LEADER approach delivered benefits that justified its additional costs and risks and followed up on our 2010 special report on this subject. We found that more than a decade later, improvements have taken place in some areas and that the LEADER approach facilitates local engagement. However, there is still little evidence that the benefits outweigh the costs and risks incurred. We recommend that the Commission should comprehensively evaluate the costs and benefits of LEADER and assess the community-led local development approach.