Brussels, 16 October 2008
The European Commission will tomorrow launch the European Network for Rural Development at a high-profile conference on rural development in Cyprus. The Network will bring together policy-makers, administrators, academics and other key actors in the area of rural development from across the European Union, thus making it easier for them to share ideas, information and experience. This will help keep the European Union's rural development policy fit for the demands of the 21st century.
Mariann Fischer Boel, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "Good policy runs partly on bright ideas, sound information and practical experience. The European Network for Rural Development will help us to share these things on a pan-European level. That will in turn help our rural development policy to deliver even better results on the ground – at a time when we're relying heavily on it to meet serious economic, environmental and social challenges."
The EU's rural development policy has a crucial role to play in the rural areas of the 27 Member States, which cover 91 percent of the EU's territory and are home to more than half of its population. It is a vital policy tool for raising the competitiveness of the farming and forestry sectors, looking after the environment and stimulating growth and employment in rural communities.
Many Member States already operate national rural development networks, which will help them with the implementation of schemes funded by the EU's rural development policy. The exchange of ideas, information and experience which takes place in these forums will become even more useful when carried out at European level. Feedback from the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) will have an influence on future rural development policy.
The launch of the ENRD takes place at a conference entitled "Europe's rural areas in action: facing the challenges of tomorrow".
This conference brings together ministers, farmers, non-governmental organisations, officials and other stakeholders and experts in rural development policy, who will take stock of the current policy to identify whether it is adequately addressing the challenges that rural Europe is facing.
The conference includes five workshops on the topics of global competition, climate change, land management and public goods, the diversity of rural areas, and successful governance.
representatives of the French
Presidency of the EU, the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and
Social Committee and the European Court of Auditors.