Rural development

Predominantly rural areas make up half of Europe and represent around 20% of the population. According to predictions made by the European Commission, 5 million rural jobs will disappear by 2014. Diversification of economic activity and improvement in the quality of life in rural areas is a mission shared by the European Union’s rural development policy and its Cohesion Policy. The European regional development fund (ERDF) and the European social fund (ESF) therefore work to complement the European agricultural fund for rural development (EAFRD).

The following are the main areas in which the ERDF is active:

  • Creation of jobs outside the agriculture industry (new businesses, development of tourism related activities etc.)
  • Development of access and connections between cities and rural areas, especially in the context of the information society.
  • Support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture industry (support for innovation and the development of new products), the agro-alimentary industry and the forestry industry
  • Risk control in the agriculture and forestry industries
  • Development of basic infrastructure in villages, particularly in new member states

No segregation between cities/countryside within the cohesion policy:

The structural funds operate simultaneously in rural and urban areas, so it is therefore difficult to determine exactly what proportion of the expenditure goes to rural development. Nevertheless, here is a table showing the distribution of funds available for the Cohesion Policy 2007-2013, according to the type of area.

Conferences:

Useful links:

Statistics:

Indicative distribution of structural funds by type of area (in millions of Euros) in 2007-2013:

AREAS

 

ERDF

ESF

TOTAL
Structural funds

Rural areas

47,127

6,545

53,672

Sparsely or very sparsely populated areas

7,860

3

7,863

Highlands

6,037

344

6,381

Islands

3,916

281

4,197

Outermost regions

1,031

1,188

5,399

Territorial co-operation areas
(between several regions/countries)

9,441

162

9,604

Urban areas

99,261

9,706

108,967

Not applicable

90,509

57,844

148,353

Total

268,361

76,073

344,435

% strictly rural areas

17.6%

8.6%

15.6 %

% rural areas (widest possible definition)

22.7%

9.1%

19.7 %

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