ELARD, in collaboration with the national federations of LAGs, organises an award ceremony for the “European LEADER Awards”.

The aim of this award ceremony is to reward the most impactful and innovative European projects of the 2014-2020 programme, and to highlight concrete achievements funded by the LEADER 2014-2020 programme.

Four prizes will be awarded :

  • People’s Choice Award, thanks to the online vote of the public ;
  • The 3 Jury’s Choices Award.

Participation terms / criteria

  • This competition is intended for public or private beneficiaries of the LEADER programme for the 2014-2020 programming period only;
  • The projects presented must already be undertaken or implemented. Unrealized projects will not be considered;
  • Cooperation projects are accepted. However, only one of the national partners can submit the project in the competition;
  • The pre-selected project bearers, or the lead corresponding LAG, commit to prepare a video presentation (3 minutes maximum) in English (or with English subtitles) of their action, which will be shown during the awards ceremony.

How to participate ?

Participation is free of charge. You have until the 17th November 2023 to submit your projects !

  • For ELARD members: simply fill in the form in the “application” tab and send it to your referent network
  • For non ELARD members: simply fill in the form in the “application” tab and send it to leadercongress2023@elard.eu.

Project bearers of LAGs can apply.

Cooperation projects are accepted.

You have until the 17th November 2023 to submit your projects !

Judging processes timeline

  • The contest is open until November 17.
  • People’s choice Award November 20 – December 4 : opening of the public vote on a dedicated digital platform.
  • Jury’s choices Award November 20 – December 4 : the jury panel will judge the projects individually.

Awards Ceremony during the 2023 European LEADER Congress

The winners will be exclusively announced at the Awards Ceremony that will take place during the 2023 European LEADER Congress, in the hemicycle of the European Parliament on the 18th of December.

Jury Panel

Isilda Maria Prazeres

President of the Portimão Municipal Chamber

Isilda Maria Prazeres dos Santos Varges Gomes is a Portuguese politician. She was the Civilian Governor of the Faro District between 2007 and 2011 and Member of the Portuguese Parliament. She was elected Mayor of Portimão in 29 September 2013 and re-elected since then. President of the Portuguese Association of Socialist Mayors, she is also Member of the European Committee of the Regions since 2020. In this institution, she chairs the commission “Natural Resources” since 2022.

In Portimão, a port city in the Algarve Region of southern Portugal, known for its sandy beaches, her priorities have always been the development of sustainable tourism, notably focusing around water management. Portimão is also usually presented as a leading example on civil protection.

Peter Schmidt

NAT Section President – EESC

Mr. Peter Schmidt’s first occupation was cheesemaker. Later on he was a regional officer of the NGG trade union (Food and Catering Union, affiliated to the DGB) for 27 years, in charge of dairy industries and bakeries. Since 2014 he has been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)’s Group II (Workers).  From 2015 to March 2018, he was the president of the EESC’s Permanent Study Group on Sustainable Food Systems. From April 2018 to September 2020, he was the president of the EESC’s Sustainable Development Observatory. Since October 2020, Peter is the President of the NAT Section of the EESC, responsible for Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment.

Stefan Niedermoser


Stefan Niedermoser, several university degrees in economics, business management and politics Director of a LAG since 2006 Managing Director of a regional development agency since 2007 Founder and Chairman of the Austrian LEADER Forum (network of 83 LAGs in Austria) ELARD Vice-Chairman Member of several national and international steering and working groups linked to regional development Chairman of the association “Support for rural entrepreneurs in the Kitzbühel district region”.

Thibaut Guignard

ELARD President

Thibaut Guignard, 42, mayor of Plœuc-L’Hermitage, a new rural commune since 2014, and departmental councillor for the canton of Plaintel from 2015 to 2021, is committed to rural areas and Europe. Thibaut Guignard has expertise in rural development, the management of European funds and the running of projects dedicated to territories. He chairs Leader France, the national federation of rural territories involved in the Leader European rural development programme, i.e. 330 territories with 26,000 municipalities and 28 million inhabitants and managing €687 million of FEADER. Since 1 January 2023, Thibaut Guignard has chaired ELARD, the European Leader Association for Rural Development. ELARD is a European association representing nearly 2,600 territories in 29 countries, including neighbouring countries of the European Union, which have adopted and are implementing the LEADER methodology of local development by local actors. Driven by his European convictions and wishing to promote the interests of European rural territories, Thibaut Guignard is keen to develop decentralised cooperation with Central and Eastern Europe. With a dynamic and European vision of rural areas, the Breton elected representative is also co-chairman of the Europe Commission of the Association of French Mayors.Since 02 March 2021, Thibaut Guignard has chaired the French Delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CLRAE).