Glossary Inforegio English
Regulations are the strongest form of Community legislation. They
have general application, are binding in their entirety and are
directly applicable in all Member States.
Rural development is closely linked to the common agricultural policy
and measures to support employment. Accordingly, support measures
in this sector have been traditionally based on different legal
instruments pursuing different objectives.
In order to make it fully coherent, the reform of the common agricultural
policy in 1999 under Agenda 2000, was accompanied by the strengthening
of rural development measures, which were arranged in a single regulation.
This instrument establishes an integrated policy of sustainable
rural development which ensures greater coherence between rural
development and the prices and markets policy of the common agricultural
policy, and promotes all aspects of rural development by encouraging
all the local players to become involved.
Rural development has thus become the second pillar of the agricultural
policy. With its links to agricultural activities and conversion,
it is concerned in particular with:
- modernisation of farms,
- safety and quality of food products,
- fair and stable incomes for farmers,
- environmental challenges,
- supplementary or alternative job-creating activities, in a bid
to halt the drift from the country and to strengthen the economic
and social fabric of rural areas,
- improvement of living and working conditions, and promotion
of equal opportunities.
The rural development measures designed to achieve these objectives
have been divided into two categories:
- flanking measures in the 1992 CAP reform: early retirement,
agro-environmental measures, afforestation and the scheme for
- measures to modernise and diversify farms: investment in farms,
start-up schemes for young farmers, training, support for investments
in processing and marketing plants, supplementary aid for forestry,
promoting and restructuring agriculture.
(Support for Preaccession Measures for Agriculture and Rural Development)
Its aim is to assist the candidate countries and prepare them for
participation in the common agricultural policy and internal market
on the basis of a wide range of adjustment measures relating to
agricultural structures and rural development. These measures form
part of the preaccession strategy conducted under Accession Partnerships
formed between the Commission and each of the candidate countries.
With the accession of the first group of candidate countries, the
Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund will take over, depending
on the capacity of the individual beneficiary countries to use the
Community grants effectively.
general economic interest:
Services of general economic interest are commercial services of
general economic utility, on which the public authorities therefore
impose specific public-service obligations (Article 86 of the EC
Treaty, formerly Article 90). Transport, energy and communications
services are prime examples.
A new Article 16 has been written into the EC Treaty by the Treaty
of Amsterdam, acknowledging the place occupied by services of general
economic interest in the shared values of the Union and their role
in promoting social and territorial cohesion. Article 16 also states
that such services must operate on the basis of principles and conditions
which enable them to fulfil their functions.
It means a single document approuved by the European Commission
and containing the same information to be found in a Community support
framework and operational programme.
The EU's Structural Funds are administered by the Commission to
finance Community structural aid. They comprise the Guidance Section
of the EAGGF for agriculture, the Regional Fund for structural aid
under the regional policy, the Social Fund for social policy measures,
and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries (FIFG). Financial support
from the Structural Funds mainly goes to the poorer regions to strengthen
the Union's economic and social cohesion so that the challenges
of the single market can be met right across the EU.
The subsidiarity principle is intended to ensure that decisions
are taken as closely as possible to the citizen and that constant
checks are made as to whether action at Community level is justified
in the light of the possibilities available at national, regional
or local level. Specifically, it is the principle whereby the Union
does not take action (except in the areas which fall within its
exclusive competence) unless it is more effective than action taken
at national, regional or local level. It is closely bound up with
the principles of proportionality and necessity, which require that
any action by the Union should not go beyond what is necessary to
achieve the objectives of the Treaty.
The Edinburgh European Council of December 1992 defined the basic
principles underlying subsidiarity and laid down guidelines for
interpreting Article 5 (former Article 3b), which enshrines subsidiarity
in the EU Treaty. Its conclusions were set out in a declaration
that still serves as the cornerstone of the subsidiarity principle.
The Treaty of Amsterdam has taken up the overall approach that
follows from this declaration in a Protocol on the application of
the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality annexed to the
EC Treaty. Two of the things this Protocol introduces are the systematic
analysis of the impact of legislative proposals on the principle
of subsidiarity and the use, where possible, of less binding Community
Subsidies are aids granted to businesses by the public authorities
for specific economic policy purposes in the form of direct financial
support or tax concessions and the like. For example, subsidies
may be granted to keep a business or even an entire sector going,
to help companies adjust to changed circumstances, to boost productivity
and growth in business and industry. Subsidies that distort competition
are prohibited in the EU. Exceptions are permitted where the subsidies
are aimed at social, structural and regional improvements.
The concept of sustainable development refers to a form of economic
growth which satisfies society's needs in terms of well-being in
the short, medium and - above all - long terms. It is founded on
the assumption that development must meet today's needs without
jeopardising the prospects of future generations. In practical terms,
it means creating the conditions for long-term economic development
with due respect for the environment. The Copenhagen world summit
for sustainable development (March 1995) stressed the need to combat
social exclusion and protect public health.
The Treaty of Amsterdam wrote an explicit reference to sustainable
development into the recitals of the EU Treaty.