Principles and Practice of Networking
The ENRD self-assessment started in December 2012 and the main report was finalised by October 2013. Further, in-depth case studies (based on the main findings of the report) were carried out from the end of 2013 until March 2014.
The self-assessment was carried out with contributions from colleagues of the ENRD Contact Point and DG AGRI services in charge of the European Network for Rural Development.
Lessons from the ENRD
The European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) was set up by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) in 2008. Its mandate is defined in the EC Regulation 1698/2005.
Prior to the ENRD self-assessment (see box above), a review of the ENRD activities, and some initial lessons about ENRD were already drawn.
The following sub-sections describe some of the milestones and achievements identified by the preliminary assessment (i.e. until the end of 2012) of the ENRD during the period of 2008-2012.
- Collection and dissemination of relevant ‘policy in action’ examples
- Establishment of knowledge exchange mechanisms
- Development of the ENRD website as a key communication tool
- Development of a suite of publications responding to stakeholder needs
- Development of the ENRD brand
Considerable experience has accumulated in the ENRD during the first 4+ years of its operation and there are many lessons to be learnt and shared from networking at the European level.
The main tasks of the ENRD are to:
- Collect, analyse and disseminate information on EU rural development measures;
- Collect, disseminate and consolidate at EU level good rural development practice;
- Provide information on developments in the EU’s rural areas and in third countries;
- Organise meetings and seminars at EU level for those actively involved in rural development;
- Set-up and run expert networks with a view to facilitating an exchange of expertise and supporting the implementation and evaluation of rural development policy;
- Support the national networks and transnational cooperation initiatives.
The ENRD’s core function is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of EU rural development policy (EAFRD) implementation.
A network support unit, known as the ENRD Contact Point (CP), provides services to support the majority of network activities. This function is outsourced to an external contractor.
The work of the support unit is defined in annually agreed contracts (with a budget of approx. €3.5 million per annum). Network activities are defined within an ENRD Annual Work Plan, proposed by DG AGRI and the CP each year, and agreed in consultation with the Coordination Committee, whose members include representatives from all major network stakeholder groups (i.e. managing authorities, National Rural Networks and other European organisations involved in rural development).