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.
- Analyses of RDP Measures
- RDP Measures in support of Farm Resilience
- Agri-environment-climate (Measure 10). See related factsheets.
- Areas Facing Natural or Other Specific Constraints (Measure 13). See related FAQs.
- Measure 16 'Cooperation'
- LEADER Cooperation (Measure 19). See related FAQs.
- Natura 2000 (support possibilities under the EAFRD). See event highlights.
Rural development programming and management
- Selection Criteria. See related FAQs.
- Unlocking the potential of the RDPs. See conference highlights.
- Umbrella projects in LEADER/CLLD.
- Simplified Cost Options (SCOs) in LEADER/CLLD. See ENRD guidance on SCOs in LEADER/CLLD.
- Results-based Agri-environment Payment Schemes (RBAPS). See a 2014-2020 RBAPS Guidance Handbook.
- Reasonableness of costs and public procurement. See related guidelines.
- Simplified Cost Options (SCOs). See related guidance.
- EFSI-EAFRD complementarity and investment platforms. See related FAQs.
- Financing opportunities for projects in agriculture and rural areas. See related FAQs.
ENRD thematic work
The ENRD Contact Point carried out thematic work focused on the topic of ‘improving RDP implementation’ in 2014-2015. This has included the following elements:
- Issue 20 of the EU Rural Review on ‘Getting Rural Development Programmes Going’.
- Meetings of a dedicated Thematic Group (TG) seeking to identify priority issues for delivering higher quality and more results-oriented RDPs (March, May, June 2015). See the TG background paper and final report.
- A European Seminar ‘Seizing the opportunities for improving RDP implementation for 2014-2020’ (June 2015).
See also the summer 2015 edition of the Rural Connections magazine featuring on-the-ground interviews and reports on the topic.
Other useful resources