Council of Europe came to a political agreement on regulation regarding the support of rural development by means of Agricultural Funds for Rural Development for the period 2007-2013 on June 21, 2005. Agricultural Council adopted strategic principles of EU for Rural Development on February 20, 2006. Main components of the new regulation are such:
- All available measures will be re-grouped under one single funding and programming instrument named Europe Agricultural Development Fund. A new strategic approach to ensure the consistency and coordination with EU priorities (enlargement, employment, sustainability), to accompany market support reform and to serve as a basis for national strategies and programmes will be put in place.
- It has a consolidated and strengthened monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanism that will enable the policy to be made more transparent and visible for all shareholders.
- Minimum expenditure rates per axis and less detailed suitability rules will leave more area for free movement for Member Countries to focus on definite axis and measures while the policies showing the necessity of experience for sustainable rural areas are implemented levelly.
- A more proper stress on local development strategies is supported to respond better to the variety and needs of the situation European rural areas have.
- Networking among European rural areas and pertinacious role playing for cooperation will facilitate the transfer of good practices and give rural policies a European dimension.
- Allocation of responsibility between Member States and the Commission has been defined more clearly.
Reformed new rural development policy has four major axes:
Axis 1: Improving Competitiveness in Agricultural and Forestry Sectors
Renewal and restructuring strategy focuses on dimensions of humane and physical capital and quality.
Priority 1; Upgrading knowledge and strengthening human potential
Priority 2; Modernisation, re-structuring and improving physical potential.
Priority 3; Improving the quality of agricultural production and products.
Priority 4; Improving the quality of the investments in human resources.
Axis 2: Land Management and Enhancement of Rural Environment
Agri-environmental precautions are mandatory. That beneficiaries should abide by EU and national requirements as regards agriculture and forestry is a general condition regarding Axis 2 measures.
Priority 1; Biodiversity and sustainable use of agricultural lands.
Priority 2; Sustainable use of forestry land
Axis 3: Improvement of Life Quality and Economic Diversity
The measures in this section target farmers, their families and a larger rural population. More diversified labour markets and a better presentation of service will create new enhancement and employment possibilities in rural areas. Thus, contribution to providing rural population stability and creation of extrinsic economies for farmers and their families will be realised. The most successful way to putting diversity and services in effect is through local development strategies.
Priority 1; Diversifying rural economy
Priority 2; Improving life standards in rural areas
Priority 3; Acquisition of a profession, skills and activation
Axis 4: LEADER
This axis expresses bottom to top vertical approach towards rural development. The main target of LEADER approach is to contribute to employment and growth in rural areas by giving support to local development strategies defined as public-private partnerships. The basis of this approach are on-site teaching, active contribution of local population to policies and to policy making process, their ability to make the decisions for their own lives.
LEADER approach has some principles:
1- Organisation of a local partnership called “Local Action Group” with a small group of constant implementers responsible for the definition and implementation of an action plan,
2- Development and implementation of a “local action plan” to define various intervention lines for certain numbers of development projects in rural areas.
3- As part of an integrated global strategy, a systematic research for the establishment of links between a multi-sectorial approach and actions.
4- Joint financing of these action plans by European Commission, Member Countries and/or regions in a global financial distribution way, not in a certain number of sectorial budget lines.
Networking among the said rural areas will be facilitated by “LEADER European Monitoring Centre”, which is located in Brussels and supported by National Coordination Units in the field is another objective in this regard.