Angus welcomes a learning visit from Romania and Belgium

This week Angus hosted a group of individuals from Belgium and Romania as part of a tourism project across the three countries. The Transnational Cooperation Project funded through the Angus LEADER programme aims to build the capacity of each area to develop a flourishing visitor economy that benefits the whole community. The project will be researching and driving community-led tourism using three main themes of welcoming visitors, promoting local food & drink and traditional rural skills.

The project is engaging with individuals, in all three countries, who are willing to work around a shared vision, purpose and set of values. In Angus the project is being led by Angus Tourism Cooperative, Murton Trust and Flourish9, with all three organisations striving to promote shared learning in tourism and collaborative working within our community. The work being carried out allows a rare opportunity to build and share knowledge of how a flourishing visitor economy can work.

As part of the project learning visits have been arranged in each country. These trips offer the opportunity to learn from like minded individuals in Europe, visit local enterprises and activities. Participants will come together in conversation to share lessons learned within their own region.

This learning visit is the second of three for the project. The group attended a visit to Romania in March this year and the final will be in Belgium next year.

A LEADER spokesperson said “Networking is a core interest of LEADER, and this cooperation includes networks within Angus and, of course, with partners in Romania and Belgium. Angus is delighted to invest in the hard-work and commitment of all these partners, to make these connections which benefit everyone involved”

Summary of LEADER local actions in Angus

Angus LEADER is part of an EU rural development programme which has funded £2.7million of local actions since December 2015, working with over 40 Angus partners in communities, the third-sector, enterprises and farm diversifications.

Angus LEADER’s four themes are

  • Community Capacity
  • Community Assets
  • Small and Micro Enterprise
  • Connectivity; digital and physical

Transnational cooperation (TNC) is a particular focus of LEADER, Angus currently has four TNC projects. ‘ENGINE’ with Sweden, our TNC ‘Borjomi-MercyCorps’ project supported rural development in a remote mountainous area of Georgia. ‘Our Rivers’ TNC allows linked work between River South Esk Catchment Partnership and a sister programme in Finland. ‘Flourishing Destinations’, our community-led tourism TNC, partners with a large group from rural parts of Flanders and of Romania.

Angus LEADER is supported by The Scottish Government and hosted by Angus Council.

The Scottish LEADER community has 21 programme areas, joining several hundred more throughout rural areas of the EU and some neighbouring states.

Why does the EU support rural development?

The EU supports rural areas on a range of economic, environmental and social challenges (including the retention of their young people) to achieve the following:

1.         a balanced development of rural economies and communities between and within EU states, including the creation and maintenance of employment.

2.         the sustainable management of natural resources, and climate action;

3.         the competitiveness of agriculture;

All Scottish rural areas include LEADER, a special EU programme for rural development – and many are hosted within their local council; as in Angus.

There are considerable differences between the EU Member States concerning the relative size of their rural populations: Lithuania was the only country where a majority (56.2 %) of the population lived in a rural area (see Figure 1), while 45–49 % of the total number of inhabitants lived in a rural area in Denmark, Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Slovenia and Luxembourg. By contrast, a relatively low share of the total population lived in rural areas in several of the most populous Member States, including Germany (22.4 %), Italy (18.9 %), Belgium (18.0 %), the United Kingdom (14.9 %) and the Netherlands (14.7 %).

Is LEADER the same funds that go to farmers?

Rural Development is a very small part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), alongside the huge system of direct payments to farmers for measures to manage agricultural markets.

This project is being delivered by a project partnership consisting of Murton Trust, Angus Tourism Cooperative, Flourish9 and Angus Council. Any of the partners can be contacted for more information.