Important legal notice
AGRILIFE- Agriculture and life sciences in the economy
SUSTAG - Sustainable Agriculture
Rural Development Research Programme

To support DG AGRI in assessing the impact of the new rural development policy and to broaden the understanding of rural development interaction in the EU.


The research agenda includes three closely interlinked thematic areas:

Theme 1: Typology of rural areas and indicators of sustainable rural development.

The research on this theme will start with a review and selection of structural and performance characteristics (indicators) of rural areas. Based on it, a specific policy relevant typology of rural areas will be developed.

The research on rural characterisation will consider “rural-urban continuum”. The typology will cluster “rural-urban continuum” – likely regions at NUTS3 level - from various perspectives. There will be no specific aim to provide definition of “rurality”, rather an appropriate (working) definition will be selected (in cooperation with customers – DG AGRI) and also a sensitivity analysis of the typology against different definitions of “rurality” might be conducted.

A conceptual framework of sustainable rural development is critical for decision on performance indicators and will be subject of the work under this theme. The typology and indicators should provide information on needs of rural areas of the EU on one hand, and it have to be also relevant to measuring impacts of policies on the other hand. Studying medium and long term policy context (debates and agendas) is essential for enhancing policy relevance of the typology and indicators.

Theme 2: Modelling of rural economies and assessment of policy impact.

This topic can be further subdivided in the three research fields:

  1. Foresight analysis: long term trends and patterns of evolution. Particular focus will be paid to business infrastructure, technological transfer, diffusion and new opportunities of ICT technologies and development of business clusters.
  2. Rural and resource economics: functioning of rural economies, factor markets and use of resources. A review and selection of tools for a comprehensive quantitative assessment of rural development. Regional and regionalised social accounting matrices, general equilibrium models and multi-agent economic models are examples for possible approaches. To study the role of agriculture in rural development a concept of multifunctional agriculture will be adopted.
  3. Assessment of impact of policies. It includes both the ex-ante and ex-post assessment for which purpose the techniques (tools) of the above two fields i) and ii) will be deployed. Deep understanding of policy measures and their implementation in the Member States is essential for conducting the ex-post analysis and for scenario building.

Theme 3: Institutions and governance of rural development.

Research will be conducted to analyse institutional environment and the forms of governance with the ultimate goal to propose/test innovations of institutional settings to improve efficiency and effectiveness of policy delivery. The influence of new information technologies on the governance of rural development programmes and initiatives will be studied in cooperation with the ICT department of IPTS.



DG AGRI - Rural Development

EUROSTAT Regional Statistics


Tomas Ratinger, F. Handan Giray, Andreas Thiel

Joint Research Centre