Important legal notice
AGRILIFE- Agriculture and life sciences in the economy
SUSTAG - Sustainable Agriculture

Expert Workshop

The diversity of rural areas in the enlarged EU:

Characterisation, typology and modelling

Organiser:

Joint Research Centre (JRC),

the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) and Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI)

Date:

14-15 December 2006

Venue:

Seville, Edificio Expo – C/. Inca Garcilaso s/n Room Montreal (Map, Hotel)

 

 

Agenda (Presentations are available)

List of participants

 

Background

The economic functions of rural areas have changed considerably in the recent decades. The driving role of agriculture in the rural development has diminished, not being substituted by any other single sector. Moreover, there has been shift in societal preferences toward other functions of rural areas as environmental or recreational. In the most parts of Europe, primary sector employment has declined while new industrial and service activities have emerged. In contrast, many new Member States and Candidate Countries have experienced turbulent transition during which a part of urban population turned back in rural areas and sought its livelihood in subsistence farming. Because of the socio-economic and environmental diversity of Europe’s rural areas there is no single overarching problem for rural policy to address. In contrast, what constitutes rural policy varies across Europe. The common feature is a certain perspective – one that cuts across sectoral concerns, has a territorial orientation and is integrated. The adequate analytical apparatus has to reflect the specific character of rural policy. The analytical requirements range from identifying and quantifying rural needs to the assessment of efficiency and effectiveness of respective policies.

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Objectives of the workshop

  1. to present the width of rural development problems across Europe highlighting the common and contrasting features;

  2. to discuss the need for and principles of a common framework for characterising rural areas - a rural typology and its use in the sustainability assessment;

  3. to discuss spatial EU wide modelling of rural economies and policy assessment and the use of rural typology in it;

  4. to discuss the future directions of rural development research.
  5. to present the approach to the rural typology adopted by IPTS, particularly the project proposal for providing rural typology;

  6. to discuss the future directions of IPTS research in the area of rural development.

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Background

The economic functions of rural areas have changed considerably in the recent decades. The driving role of agriculture in the rural development has diminished, not being substituted by any other single sector. Moreover, there has been shift in societal preferences toward other functions of rural areas as environmental or recreational. In the effect there has been an inevitable decline in primary sector employment, traditional rural industries have been squeezed, and new industrial and service activities have emerged.

While these are European trends in general, many new Member States and Candidate Countries have experienced turbulent development in which a substantial part of urban (jobless) population turned back in rural areas and sought its livelihood in subsistence farming.

Because of the socio-economic and environmental diversity of Europe’s rural areas there is no single overarching problem for rural policy to address. In contrast, what constitutes rural policy varies across Europe. The common feature is a certain perspective – one that cuts across sectoral concerns, has a territorial orientation and is integrated.

The 2003 fundamental reform of the Pillar I of the Common Agricultural Policy opened space for strengthening rural development policy. The Council launched a new rural development regulation for the next financing period 2007-13 (EC/1698/2005) which unifies rural policy measures under the umbrella of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development in 2005. Rural policy objectives, stated in the above documents, are: i) increasing the competitiveness of the farm and forestry sector through support for restructuring, modernisation and quality production (Axis 1), ii) enhancing the environment and the countryside through support for land management (Axis 2) and iii) enhancing the quality of life in rural areas and promoting diversification of economic activities (Axis 3).

Broadening the scope of the Pillar II, particularly in the axes two and three, and integrating policy measures in terms of funding (EAFRD (1)) and territorial approach (as LEADER) have induced demand for an adequate apparatus for the rural policy analysis. The analytical requirements range from identifying and quantifying rural needs to the assessment of efficiency and effectiveness of respective policies.

JRC and IPTS in particular have responded to this challenge by formulating a rural development research agenda for the next programming period. The IPTS focuses on the socio-economic dimension of the sustainable rural development in three themes: i) indicators of sustainable rural development and typology of rural areas; ii) modelling rural economies and the assessment of policy impacts, and iii) institutions and governance of rural development.

The workshop refers to the themes one and two of the IPTS rural development research agenda.

(1) European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development

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Joint Research Centre