Rural areas in the EU represent, according to a standard definition, 91 % of the territory and 56 % of the population. Many of these rural areas face significant environmental and socio-economic challenges. Agricultural practices put pressure on the rural environment, but on the other hand, agriculture and forestry are generating public goods, notably environmental such as landscapes, biodiversity, climate stability and protection against natural disasters. Rural areas are increasingly diversified and rely more and more on secondary and tertiary economic sectors. However, agriculture and food industries directly related still represent a high share of the economy particularly in remote and predominantly rural areas.
The EU's rural development policy aims at meeting these challenges faced by rural areas. The rural development policy for the different financial periods is set up so as to cover issues related to competitiveness of agriculture and forestry, environmental issues and territorial cohesion aspects such as quality of life in rural areas and diversification of the rural economy.
JRC research focuses on the role of agriculture as provider of public goods, on the impacts of rural development policies on all the aspects of rural economies and on the contribution of agriculture to new environmental challenges and green growth.
Public Goods provided by EU agriculture
Agriculture in the EU plays a determinant and positive environmental and socio-economic role by providing a wide range of public goods associated with agriculture, highly valued by society, such as agricultural landscapes, soil functionality or rural vitality.
Assessing the impact of rural development policies on rural and regional economies
The EU Rural Development Policy addresses several challenges related the economy, the environment and the society of rural areas. Assessing ex ante or ex post the impact of such policies implies to cover all the different aspects of rural economies and societies.
Economic impact analysis of agriculture contribution to green growth (climate change, water)
New environmental challenges such as climate change and greenhouse gas emissions or the availability of water are directly affecting agriculture in the EU and in parallel agricultural activity has direct and indirect impact on the environmental issues at stake.