Cooperation goes further than networking. It involves a local action group undertaking a joint project with another LEADER group, or with a group taking a similar approach, in another region, Member State, or even third country.

Cooperation can help LEADER groups to boost their local activities. It can allow them to resolve certain problems or add value to local resources. For example, it can be a way of achieving the critical mass necessary for a specific project to be viable, or of encouraging complementary actions. Examples include joint marketing by Leader groups in different regions whose areas share a specialisation in a specific product (chestnuts, wool, etc.), or developing joint tourism initiatives based on a shared cultural heritage (Celtic, Roman, etc.).

Cooperation projects are not just simple exchanges of experiences. They must involve a concrete joint project, ideally managed under a common structure. There are two different types of cooperation possible under LEADER:

  • interterritorial cooperation: this means cooperation between different rural areas within a Member State; it may take place between LEADER groups, and it is also open to other local groups using a similar participatory approach;
  • transnational cooperation: this means cooperation between LEADER groups from at least two Member States, or with groups in third countries following a similar approach.

The potential of the measure in sharing experience across rural Europe and assisting in the achievement of cohesiveness amongst different and diverse states has yet to be realised fully. Moreover with the pre-accession states enthusiastic to get involved in the LEADER Program, Animation and Capacity Building take on a whole new dimension.

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