The Slovenian government has issued the Decree on the implementation of CLLD by 2027 (the Decree). The Decree was published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia on 22 December 2023. The Decree sets out the provisions regulating the implementation of community-led local development (CLLD) by 2027 (the LEADER/CLLD approach) under Slovenia’s CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027 and Slovenia’s Cohesion Policy Programme 2021-2027. The Decree governs the support delivered through the multi-fund LEADER/CLLD approach that is financed via the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the 2023-2027 period.
The EAFRD and the ERDF will make a total of 84.55 million euros available for the implementation of the LEADER/CLLD approach in the 2023-2027 period. The funding will be used for the implementation of the projects selected in the scope of local development strategies and for the management of local action groups (LAG).
The Decree governs the support for the implementation of the projects, including LAG cooperation projects in the scope of local development strategies prepared in 2023. The latter will be approved and launched in the beginning of 2024. Beneficiaries for support will be LAGs, natural or legal persons, except for the ERDF, where natural persons, except for sole proprietors, will not be eligible for support.
Furthermore, the Decree identifies the conditions for the allocation of support to the projects selected in the scope of the local development strategies. The projects will be implemented in the areas with less than 10,000 inhabitants; promotion, education, workshops, and other minor activities will also be able to be carried out in these areas. The Decree ushers in several simplifications and harmonized rules for the ERDF and the EAFRD. It further allows for advance payments and VAT claiming in line with the legislation, and introduces simplified cost options, including for staff costs in the scope of voluntary work.
The maximum amount of support to be granted to each project is 200,000 euros, and the minimum amount of support is 5,000 euros with a co-financing rate of 80% of eligible project costs. Under the EAFRD, however, the co-financing rate for certain investments stands at 65% of eligible project costs.
The project selection procedure remains the same as in the previous period. LAGs publish a call for project proposals in their respective LAG areas. The projects are selected on the basis of a set of selection criteria and approved by the LAG board or LAG general assembly. LAG lead partner then submits the projects to be financed by the EARDF to the Agency for Agricultural Markets and Rural Development that issues a funding decision. The projects to be financed under the ERDF are submitted to the Ministry of Cohesion and Regional Development that concludes a co-financing contract with the beneficiary.
Lead partners selected by LAGs carrying out agreed LAG tasks will be eligible for support for LAG management, i.e., for the costs of running LAGs, including monitoring and evaluation of local development strategies, costs of animation of local area and costs of support and assistance to potential beneficiaries for developing project ideas and preparing projects. Support from the ERDF and the EAFRD will be paid out in the form of lump sums in the amounts defined in the local development strategies, but only if the milestones set out in the Decree will be achieved.
Additionally, the Decree sets out the system for the submission of project proposals and beneficiaries’ payment claims; it further sets out financial provisions, general obligations of the beneficiaries, state aid schemes, and provides for the control system and administrative sanctions to ensure an effective and efficient implementation of the LEADER/CLLD approach.