Financing period 2021–2027
Financing period 2021–2027
The goal of increasing public involvement in solving local problems remains no less relevant in the period of 2021–2027. Therefore, the importance of measures based on community-led local development (CLLD) method has not diminished.
The need to increase public involvement in solving local problems is evidenced by both the low civic empowerment index in Lithuania and the relatively small number of Lithuanians who got involved in local public affairs in the last 12 months. It should also be noted that in the period of 2014–2020, taking into account the amount of financing allocated for the implementation of the CLLD method according to Operational Programme for the European Union Funds’ Investments in 2014–2020, the CLLD method was applied only in 38 cities (municipal centres and cities with a population of more than 6 thousand inhabitants) and/or parts of them with a total population of ~748 thousand, even though the local action groups of cities had prepared almost 60 local development strategies (~202 thousand inhabitants live in the territories where financing for the prepared local development strategies has not been allocated). In total, ~1.8 million people live in cities (municipal centres and other cities with more than 6,000 inhabitants). Thus, during the period of 2014–2020, the scope of application of the CLLD method in cities and, accordingly, the possibilities of the community to solve relevant problems using the ‘bottom-up’ approach, were relatively small.
The CLLD method will continue to be the basis for measures to increase public involvement in the solution of local problems in the new financing period. Only the results are expected to be significantly higher. If in 2020, there were 415 civil society and private sector entities that participated in the preparation and/or implementation of local development strategies in Lithuania, said number is expected to double by 2027.
In the new financing period, measures focusing on local action groups will not only promote cooperation and collaboration between local actors in addressing local public service issues, but will also help to mobilise the resources and expertise of local actors, allow for a more complex and effective solution to a specific problem, create conditions for closer co-operation in specific locations, and help strengthen non-governmental and/or other community-led organisations with less experience in solving such problems.
Projects for all activities of the measure, whose source of financing is the EU structural funds 2021–2027, will be selected in accordance with the competition-based procedure.
Support is intended for both the preparation of local development strategies and their implementation:
- When financing projects of the preparation of local development strategies, it is planned to prepare 60 local development strategies intended for the development of cities that are municipal centres and/or have more than 6,000 inhabitants, or parts thereof, and, where appropriate, the development of the areas (suburbs and functional urban areas) associated with specified cities. By applying a ‘bottom-up’ approach (in partnership with the community), local development strategies will identify relevant problems of social exclusion and insufficient integration, as well as needs and potential for local development in these areas, and plan actions (including the actions needed to mobilise the community to implement those actions), etc. It is planned to allocate approximately EUR 600,000 for such support.
- When providing support for the implementation of local development strategies, investments will be made in the actions of local development strategies aimed at increasing the social inclusion of the population, supporting the solution of such relevant problems as community poverty and exclusion (i.e., application of preventive measures to socially vulnerable and social risk persons, helping the socially marginalised to participate fully in society, helping people from vulnerable groups to enter the labour market and take up self-employment, entrepreneurship and stay in business) and promoting of creation and development of social business in communities to address the exclusion of vulnerable groups in a specific area. It is planned to allocate about EUR 40.45 million to solve these problems.
Support will also be provided for the activities of local action groups responsible for the preparation of local development strategies (selection of local development projects, management, monitoring and evaluation of local development strategy, and strengthening the competencies of local action group representatives) and their active application. According to the Community-led local development guidelines for local actors, strengthening the partners’ capacity to connect with the community and encouraging individuals and groups to help them submit projects to help implement the local development strategy is considered an active application of the strategy; active application includes: support for community organisations, development of community structures; encouraging the preparation of projects and applications and assistance in preparing them; information campaigns; communicating with relevant stakeholders, community groups and potential project promoters to find ideas and build trust; support for ongoing projects.
The activities of the CLLD activity groups will be implemented in accordance with the Common Provisions Regulation 2021–2027 (that is currently under preparation). In order to ensure the proper application of the CLLD method in cities, national legislation governing the requirements for local action groups preparing and implementing local development strategies, and for the preparation, selection and implementation of local development strategies, will also be adopted.
Executors of projects for the implementation of the activity ‘Support for the Preparation of Local Development Strategies’ are local action groups (associations) that meet the following requirements:
- The area of activity of the local action group must cover a territory with a population not exceeding 150,000 inhabitants: a city that is a municipal centre, or a city with a population of 6–150 thousand inhabitants, or the part of the city with 100–150 thousand people, or an agglomeration of several cities, each of which is the municipal centre, or a city with a population of 6–100 thousand people, or an agglomeration of the part of the city with 100–130 thousand inhabitants, and a city that is the municipal centre or has 6–20 thousand people; the area of activity of the local action group may include the functional zones and suburbs of municipal centres and other cities and parts thereof referred to above.
- The members of the local action group must be partners coming from three parties (e.g., NGOs and/or other community-led organisations, the municipality(ies) and business associations and/or private legal entities) operating in the area of operation of the local action group; none of these partner parties can control the local activity group’s decision-making as it pertains to the local development strategy.
Executors of local development projects may be public and private legal entities, their branches or natural persons operating or residing in the territory of the implementation of the local development strategy.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of the implementation of CLLD activity group activities, project promoters are required to select local development strategy measures and actions in cooperation with the community, having analysed the development needs and potential of the area, evaluated alternatives to measures and actions (at least 3 alternatives), and identified the most beneficial alternative(s) to the community.
Projects implemented according to the activities of the CLLD activity group will have to comply with:
- Common Provisions Regulation 2021–2027 and provisions of national law setting out the requirements for local action groups, as well as for the preparation and implementation of local development strategies;
- The provisions of the Operational Programme for EU Structural Funds Investments for 2021-2027 regarding the activities of priority 4 ‘More Social Lithuania’ that are planned to be implemented using the CLLD method.
The local development strategies prepared by local action groups will have to be assessed by the regional development councils for the compliance of the strategies with the regional development goals and objectives, and strategies to the implementation of which it is planned to contribute from the municipal budget(s) will also require a decision of the municipal council(s) on the allocation of such funds.
The implementation of the measure is planned to start in the 1st quarter of 2022 and finish in the 3rd quarter of 2029. The deadline for the implementation of activities is determined after estimating the projected deadline for approving the operational programme for EU investments for 2021-2027 and taking into account the provision of the draft Common Provisions Regulation 2021–2027, which states that the first phase of the selection of local development strategies should be completed within 12 months from the date of approval of the operational programme and local development groups should have the opportunity to start implementing the selected local development strategies.
It is planned that the activity ‘Support for the Preparation of Local Development Strategies’ will be launched in the 1st quarter of 2022 and completed in the 3rd quarter of 2022, and the activity ‘Support for the Implementation of Local Development Strategies’ will be launched in the 1st quarter of 2023 and completed in the 3rd quarter of 2029.
The biggest difference between CLLD in the period of 2014–2020 and CLLD in the period of 2021–2027 is that in the new financing period, CLLD will be financed not only by the European Social Fund but also by the European Regional Development Fund, which means that more ‘hard’ investments will be financed. Another important difference is that during the new period, the investments will also be made in the actions of local development strategies that support the development of social business.
The European Commission recognises that CLLD is a long-term process, usually lasting several financing periods, and recommends that countries make a long-term financial commitment to strengthen community capacity and increase community wealth.