European Rural Development policy, part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), is implemented through Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) in each EU Member State. RDPs are documents drawn up by countries and regions, setting out priority approaches and actions to meet the needs of the specific geographical area they cover.
Additionally, the RDPs need to address at least four of the six EU Rural Development priorities. These broader policy priorities are broken down into specific areas of intervention, known as Focus Areas (FAs). The RDPs set out quantified targets against the selected Focus Areas and outline the programme Measures and their allocated funding that will be used to reach the targets.
In the 2014-2020 programming period, there are 118 national and regional RDPs funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and national contributions. In the current seven-year period, approximately € 100 billion through the EAFRD and € 61 billion of public funding in the Member States is being spent on rural development.
The effective delivery of the RDPs falls within the responsibilities of national or regional public authorities: Managing Authorities (MAs). This is further supported by designated Paying Agencies (PAs), tasked with making payments to project beneficiaries. The European Commission itself does not allocate funding to beneficiaries, it shares RDP management responsibility with the MAs and reimburses programme authorities through the EAFRD for the payments made by the PAs.
Improving RDP implementation
Improving the quality of the RDPs is one of the key objectives of the ENRD in the 2014-2020 programming period. This includes supporting effective programme implementation.
In this context, the ENRD Contact Point organises events bringing together all the actors involved in RDP implementation, including MAs, PAs, and representatives of the National Rural Networks (NRNs) and EU institutions (European Commission, European Court of Auditors, European Investment Bank). The aim is to achieve a common understanding of the legal framework and implementation processes through generating and sharing knowledge; facilitating networking and exchange of experience and good practice; and supporting cooperation and capacity building.
The sections below compile ENRD resources on RDP implementation topics, including events, publications, and analyses.