Agricultural Development in European Union: Drivers, Challenges and Perspectives

Laura Giurca Vasilescu


Globalisation of world trade, consumer-led quality
requirements and EU enlargement are the new realities and challenges
facing European agriculture today. The changes will affect not only
agricultural markets, but also local economies in rural areas. The
future of the agricultural sector is closely linked to a balanced
development of rural areas. The Community dimension in this relationship
is therefore clear: agricultural and rural policy have an important role
to play in the cohesion of EU territorial, economic and social policy.
With over 56 percent of the population in the 27 Member States of the
European Union (EU) living in rural areas, which cover 91 percent of the
territory, rural development is a vitally important policy area. Farming
and forestry remain crucial for land use and the management of natural
resources in the EU’s rural areas, and as a platform for economic
diversification in rural communities. The strengthening of EU rural
development policy is, therefore, an overall EU priority. The European
Union has an active rural development policy because this helps to
achieve valuable goals for the country sides and for the people who live
and work there. The policy is funded partly from the central EU budget
and partly from individual Member States' national or regional budgets.
Theoretically, individual EU Member States could decide and operate
completely independent rural development policies. However, this
approach would work poorly in practice. Not all countries in the EU
would be able to afford the policy which they needed and many of the
issues addressed through rural development policy do not divide up
neatly at national or regional boundaries. Also, rural development
policy has links to a number of other policies set at EU level.
Therefore, the EU has a common rural development policy, which
nonetheless places considerable control in the hands of individual
Member States and regions. The EU’s rural development policy is all
about meeting the challenges faced by our rural areas, and unlocking
their potential.

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