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Outlook for networking in 2014-2020

Issues and recommendations for the future of networking

Discussions about the future of rural networking have been on-going within the ENRD since the publication in October 2011 of the proposed regulatory framework [PDF ] on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) in 2014-2020.

The 15th NRN meeting in May 2012 was dedicated to exchanging experiences and views on the effectiveness and efficiency of networking as a rural development policy tool in the EU-27.

Participants were invited to contribute to discussions about:

  1. enhancing the current level of knowledge and understanding of networking in rural development policy, and;
  2. identifying ways to improve networking as a rural development policy tool for the current and future programming period .

All background materials, presentations and outcomes of discussions from the 15th NRN meeting can be viewed / downloaded here.

The outcomes from the 15th NRN meeting –including an updated ENRD discussion paper on "What do we know about Networking as a Rural Development Policy Tool?" [PDF ] (June 2012) - were fed into a Coordination Committee workshop on ‘The Future of Networking’ held in September 2012.

The aim of the workshop was to

  1. facilitate an exchange of views and experience from various stakeholders regarding the future framework for networking at European and national level, and;
  2. provide a preparatory step for rural networking in the next generation of rural development programmes (RDPs).

Representatives from managing authorities, NRNs, European organisations active in the field of rural development, agricultural research organisations, agricultural chambers and other relevant network stakeholder groups attended the workshop.

All background materials, presentations and outcomes of discussions from the Co-ordination Committee workshop can be viewed / downloaded here.

The participants explored many varied topics, including:

  1. The need to ensure stronger links and better coordination with other Common Strategic Framework (CSF) [PDF ] funds.
  2. The role and functions of the proposed bodies to guide and support the work of the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) and European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP), which may include:
    1. the possible establishment of a European Rural Network Assembly, which would meet bi-annually to review and propose activities; and
    2. a Steering Group which would deal with organisational and statutory issues, including work programmes, budget priorities, reporting, and coordination and management of the three networks.
  3. The need for greater clarity on the role of NRNs to support the network facility for implementation of the EIP.
  4. The implications at Member State level of the proposed European network structures and mandates, including concerns over resource requirements, linkages with existing networks (particularly for agricultural research) and the transitional challenges when preparing future RDPs.

Participants also shared their experience and lessons learned regarding network issues such as governance and management, monitoring and evaluation, effective outreach to stakeholders and capacity building.

Based on the exchanges in the workshop, the following needs were highlighted for rural development networking:

  • Agreement on a common set of activities/tasks to be performed by all national networks.
  • More inclusive representation of different stakeholders in network governance structures at all levels.
  • More opportunities for exchange and learning amongst networks and between peers.
  • A commitment to ensuring that network relationships, experience and continuity are not lost - either at EU or national level - during the transition to the next programming period.
  • Further clarity and guidance regarding the structure and operation of the future EU networks.

Discussions continued on key issues regarding the programming, monitoring and evaluation of the future national rural networks continued during the 16th NRN meeting in October 2012 with sessions on:

  • Network intervention logic
  • Monitoring and evaluation of NRNs
  • Identifying a core set of activities for NRNs

All background materials, presentations and outcomes of discussions from the 16th NRN meeting can be viewed / downloaded here.

Networking was also an important theme in the ENRD seminar on ‘Successful Programming’ held in December 2012. This seminar took stock of work carried out by the ENRD during 2012 in preparation for the next rural development programming period and focused on how the collected knowledge and experience can be carried forward.

The seminar included a workshop on the issue of good governance in the preparation of the RDPs with presentations on:

  • The partnership principle in the implementation of the CSF funds – Elements for a European code of conduct [PDF ]
  • Good Governance in preparation of the RDPs - Networking and consultation process [PDF ]
  • Using the network in the consultation process [PDF ]

Further information on the Commission Working Paper on Partnership Principle (Code of Conduct) can be downloaded here [PDF ].


Last update: 07/01/2014 | Top