Rural development in Europe: How can the CAP support social cohesion and growth?

Rural areas cover 52% of the EU’s territory and are home to 112 million people. They find employment not only in the agricultural sector, but also in the food industry and tourism, which employ nearly 15 million people.

However, rural areas still face many societal challenges, including high unemployment, lower income and lack of infrastructure and services. Rising urbanisation combined with the loss of “young talents” and decreasing income due to high overhead costs have raised eyebrows in Brussels. In response to an ageing rural population, EU policy-makers are also exploring ways to bring young people back to farms.

Rural development has therefore become an increasingly political priority over the past 30 years. The Cork 2.0 declaration in 2016 further links European agriculture to the social dimension for “a better life in rural areas”. The CAP could and does help social cohesion and growth in rural areas, particularly in synergy with other EU policies and funds.

Ahead of the CAP review at the end of 2017, EURACTIV organised a workshop to discuss how to improve the CAP for both farmers and rural communities. Questions included:
– What have the CAP and first Cork declaration achieved for rural areas?
– What is the way forward for the CAP post-2020 in ensuring rural areas are not left behind?
– How can the CAP go beyond agriculture to support the local economy? How can collaboration with other EU and local institutions be strengthened?
– How can agriculture and other sectors of activity (tourism, renewable energy, hand crafts) reinforce each other? What contribution can they give to rural development?
– How can women, young people, immigrants and other groups be better integrated in the development of rural areas?
– Could the introduction of new technologies and precision farming be used as a motivation to attract young people?

The event was organised in the framework of the project Do we take the CAP for granted?,

Funded with support from the European Commission.

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