The European Lead Fast Reactor has been developed in the frame of the European lead system (ELSY) project funded by the Sixth Framework Programme of EURATOM. The project, coordinated by Ansaldo Nucleare, involved a wide consortium of European organizations. The ELSY reference design is a 600MWe pool-type reactor cooled by pure lead. The project demonstrates the possibility of designing a competitive and safe fast critical reactor using simple engineered technical features, whilst fully complying with the Generation IV goals. The paper focuses on the main aspects of the proposed design for the European lead fast reactor highlighting the innovation of this reactor concept and overall objectives. Special attention has been dedicated to safety starting from the first step of the design development taking into account other important aspects, such as the investment protection, the compactness of the primary system as well as sustainability. The main safety features of the proposed innovative decay heat removal (DHR) systems are presented. From the beginning of 2010, and for a duration of three years, the European Commission (EC) is financing the new project Lead European Advanced Demonstration Reactor (LEADER) as part of the 7th Framework Program. This paper highlights the main objectives of the LEADER project.