Policy Overview 2014-2020
The Europe 2020 strategy indicates that future economic growth in the EU should be smart, sustainable and inclusive. It is focused on five ambitious goals in the areas of employment, innovation, education, poverty reduction and climate/energy and sets specific headline targets for them.
In line with Europe 2020 and the overall CAP objectives (See the: European Commission Communication on the CAP towards 2020 [PDF]) three long-term strategic objectives can be identified for EU rural development policy in the 2014-2020 period:
- improving the competitiveness of agriculture;
- the sustainable management of natural resources and climate action; and
- a balanced territorial development of rural areas.
For the purposes of managing rural development policy through Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) these broad objectives are given more detailed expression through 6 priorities:
- Fostering knowledge transfer in agriculture, forestry and rural areas
- Enhancing the competitiveness of all types of agriculture and enhancing farm viability
- Promoting food chain organisation and risk management in agriculture
- Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems dependent on agriculture and forestry
- Promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift toward a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in agriculture, food and forestry sectors
- Promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas
In turn, each RDP priority identifies specific areas of intervention (focus areas). RDP priorities and focus areas provide the basis for programming and rolling out the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) support to EU rural areas.
Several EU funds provide additional support for rural areas alongside the EAFRD, namely: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Cohesion Fund (CF) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). In order to deliver greater European added value and maximise synergies, in 2014-2020 all European Structural and Investments funds (ESI funds) concentrate their support on achieving the EU2020 headline targets and are coordinated under a Common Strategic Framework (CSF).
The Common Provisions on the Structural Funds (see basic legislative acts for the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds for 2014-2020) puts all ESI funds under a common legislative umbrella harmonising and simplifying rules where possible and appropriate. It defines 11 thematic objectives [PDF] reflecting the EU2020 priorities.
Partnership Agreements reflect the EU common strategic approach for each Member State, setting out how they coordinate the different policies and use the ESI funds accordingly (see more on Partnership Agreements here).
In this framework, rural development policy maintains its distinctive identity and it operates under a specific regulation (Regulation (EU) Nº 1305/2013 on support for rural development [PDF]) and common provisions for the CAP as a whole (Regulation (EU) № 1306/2013 on CAP “horizontal” aspects such as funding and controls [PDF]).