Lessons from the ENRD
What has worked well at EU level
Key aspects of the ENRD structure that have worked well include:
- The development of a more flexible and responsive management structure and support team, increasingly willing to listen, learn, adapt, modify and grow with the network. Over time (as the network has matured), the ENRD has been empowered by the management team to create more opportunities for open exchange and debate amongst ENRD members and targeted stakeholders. It is now understood and increasingly acknowledged that outcomes from ENRD activities do not necessarily need to reflect the views of the Commission, but can simply be the many and varied voices of the network.
- The broad grouping of EU rural development stakeholder interests within the ENRD Coordination Committee promoting a dynamic, multi-faceted policy dialogue that has gradually intensified to cover many aspects of rural development policy, as well as a broader range of stakeholder interests.
- The network structure has provided access to DG AGRI and other officials (at national and regional level) to:
- engage them in a more interactive policy dialogue;
- exchange implementation experiences, and;
- use this information and insight to gradually introduce improvements in the rural development policy implementation framework at EU, Member State and regional level.
- Outsourcing of the majority of network support unit services has allowed the gradual development of an active partnership between DG AGRI and the contractor, promoting innovation, encouraging the development of new products and services and critically, providing a framework within which to broaden and deepen communication and exchange on rural development policy.
Key aspects of the ENRD activities that have worked well include:
- Gradual expansion and adaptation of the range and diversity of ENRD products and services in response to network feedback (with many available in six languages), providing more opportunities for engagement and information exchange with a wider range of rural development stakeholders.
- Experimentation with a variety of mechanisms to engage network stakeholders in policy dialogue and support policy analysis activities (including case studies, working groups and focus groups), which have often provided unique and practical insights into specific policy implementation issues. Outcomes from these initiatives have, on occasion, had a direct influence on the effectiveness and efficiency of EU rural policy design and refinement (namely for LEADER and some aspects of implementation mechanisms, rules and procedures). Evidence-based findings have also provided important insights to guide the design of future rural development programmes.
- Collection, collation and dissemination of a critical mass of relevant project examples, providing a growing repository of practical information to guide, inspire and demonstrate EAFRD funding in action.