Mainland Finland has 54 Leader groups, Åland one. Rural areas in Finland are covered by Leader groups. In Finland, Leader local action groups (LAGs) are registered associations that develop rural areas by funding local rural development projects and supporting local enterprisesEach group covers a number of municipalities and, on average, 50,000 inhabitants, with the number ranging from 14,000 to slightly over 100,000 depending on the group.
Find contact information for Finland’s Leader groups at the following link (in Finnish):
The various groups are equally represented in the board
Most Leader groups hold an annual general meeting at which the members of the association elect new members of the board.
One third of the members of the board represent municipalities, another third enterprises and communities, and yet another third represent the residents of the area in question who otherwise are not represented in the decision-making bodies of the municipalities and communities. Thus, such groups are equally represented in the boards of action groups.
The board makes decisions on applications that will receive funding
The board handles the applications submitted to the group, giving their opinion. The board is in favour of an application provided it meets the criteria set for the local development strategy, the Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland and the principles of the Leader scheme.
Between 2014 and 2020, funding allocated to individual groups will range from 2.9 to 11.1 million euros. Public funding for the Leader groups operating in Mainland Finland amounts to 300 million euros. Public funding comprises the portions granted by the European Union, the government and the municipalities. In addition, the target is set for funding works on the premise that Leader groups will gather private funding up to 35% of the total amount, in other words, 162 million euros.
The Leader scheme has a history of more than 20 years in Finland
Leader activities in Finland began in 1996. Between 1996 and 1999, the Community Initiative LEADER II was implemented in Finland by 22 action groups.
In 1997, Leader activities were expanded by the introduction of a national programme. The number of groups funded by the national programme alone was 26. Between 2000 and 2006, the Leader method was extended to cover the whole of Finland, with the number of action groups totalling 58. During the programming period 2007–2013, 56 action groups were in operation in Finland.