Why does research and innovation on rural and farming policy matter?

Rural areas across the EU have undergone and are still undergoing profound changes including the transition from economies focusing on the primary sector towards more diverse economies where industries and services play an increasing or even dominant role.

In many territories, new activities are flourishing, including tourism, small-scale and niche manufacturing, food production and business services. Digital developments also offer a wide range of new business and networking opportunities. At the same time, many rural areas are facing demographic and social decline that endangers the delivery of vital ecosystem services.

While economic diversification was an important objective of rural policies for decades, the food security agenda – including concerns over generational renewal in farming – and the increasing demand for biomass for bio-based applications, created renewed interest towards primary production.

This new interest needs to accommodate stakeholder concerns over the capacity of rural areas to sustainably cater to all these needs while delivering a high level of environmental and social benefits in the context of urbanisation and climate change.

Evidence and knowledge are an essential input into the design of modern policies that will help rural communities and businesses overcome these challenges, using the most appropriate instruments and governance approaches.

Policy focus

Funding opportunities

  • Horizon 2020

    Calls for proposals related to rural and farming dynamics and policies are spread across numerous schemes in Horizon 2020. This page lists them and explains how you can apply.

  • European agricultural fund for rural development

    The rural development policy supports innovation through a range of interventions, including the European innovation partnership for agriculture (EIP-AGRI).

  • LIFE programme

    Some rural and farming dynamics and policies related calls may be found in this programme.

  • ESPON programme

    The European spatial planning observatory network (ESPON) funds territorial research projects and analysis, including on rural territories.

Collaboration and jobs

Projects and results

Scientific publications, tools and databases

  • Scientific publications 

    Scientific publications produced by the European Commission (JRC).

  • Scientific research tools and databases 

    The Commission's Joint Research Centre compiles databases and develops software and modelling tools.

  • EU Open Data Portal 

    Single point of access to open data produced by the EU institutions. All data is free to use for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

  • OpenAIRE

    You can access all scientific publications from Horizon 2020 via OpenAIRE.

  • Copernicus

    Access to agriculture data from the Copernicus programme.