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Brussels, 15 July 2004

Rural Development Next Generation: better, broader, simpler

The Commission has adopted a proposal to reinforce the EU’s rural development policy and to greatly simplify its implementation. Reflecting citizens’ demands to focus on the environment, food safety and quality, the Commission wants the EU’s rural development policy[1] to play a more important role in the new, reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The proposal will increase EU funding, amounting to total EU funding of € 13.7 billion per year for 2007-2013. By introducing a single funding and programming instrument, the new policy will be much simpler to manage and control. Coherence, transparency and visibility will be increased. Member States and regions will have more freedom as to how to implement the programmes.

Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural development and Fisheries, said “One fund, one programme, one control. This is the principle of a new, more efficient, coherent and visible rural development policy.”

Commissioner Sandra Kalniete added “This is very good news, especially for those who live in rural areas of the new Member States. The proposal includes measures to address the specific needs of these areas and their people.”

Main features of the new rural development policy:

  • One funding and programming instrument, the European Agriculture Rural Development Fund (EARDF)
  • A genuine EU strategy for rural development with better focus on EU priorities
  • Reinforced control, evaluation and reporting. Clearance of accounts audit system will be extended to all parts of rural development
  • A strengthened bottom-up approach. Member States, regions and local action groups will have more say in attuning programmes to local needs

The three main objectives:

Axis 1: Improving competitiveness of farming and forestry


  • improving and developing infrastructure related to the development and adaptation of agriculture and forestry
  • supporting farmers who participate in food quality schemes
  • setting up of young farmers
  • support for semi-subsistence farmers in new Member States to become competitive

A minimum of 15% of the national envelope has to be spent on Axis 1. The EU co-financing rate is maximum 50% (75% in convergence regions).

Axis 2: Environment and land management


  • natural handicap payments to farmers in mountain areas
  • NATURA 2000 payments
  • agri-environment measures
  • animal welfare payments

Agri-environmental measures will remain compulsory. Beneficiaries must respect the EU and national mandatory requirements for agriculture and forestry.

A minimum of 25% of the national envelope has to be spent on Axis 2. The EU co-financing rate is maximum 55% (80% in convergence regions).

Axis 3: Improving quality of life and diversification


  • diversification to non agricultural activities
  • support for the creation of micro enterprises
  • encouragement of tourism
  • village renewal

A minimum of 15% of the national envelope has to be spent on Axis 3. The EU co-financing rate is maximum 50% (75% in convergence regions).

New approach for LEADER

Each programme must have a LEADER element for the implementation of local development strategies of local action groups. A minimum of 7% of national programme funding is reserved for LEADER. 3% of the overall funding for the period will be kept in reserve and allocated in 2012/13 to Member States with the best results.

[1] For background, see MEMO/04/180

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