Bulgaria’s Coverage With Local Initiative Groups – A Spatial Analysis
This research focuses on the innovative LEADER approach within the Common agricultural policy of the EU which is widely used for the decentralized and at the same time integrated development of rural regions in each member state. Theoretically, the LEADER approach is part of the endogenous theory of economic development and plays an important role in achieving the social, economic and now climatic aims as a specific European model of stimulating the inclusion of communities in local development. From a spatial point of view, the LEADER approach has been applied at the level of municipality or unified neighboring municipalities and/or neighboring settlements-part of a municipality/ies with a population between 10,000 and 150,000 inhabitants by local initiative groups (LIG). Bulgaria’s Program for the development of rural regions 2014–2020 adopts the national definition according to which rural regions are defined at the municipal level (LAU 1) and comprise the territory of 231 municipalities in which the largest town has a population of 30,000 inhabitants. The analysis of the spatial coverage of rural regions with LIG shows the negative effect of the admission of typically urban municipalities within the territories which receive funding through the LEADER network. To eliminate those inaccuracies in determining the policies for the development of rural regions, we propose and test variants to change this arguable, too streamlined and non-corresponding to scientific thought definition of a rural region.