36

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Long-term vision for rural areas: European Commission communication

17-09-2021

In June 2021, the European Commission published a communication setting out a long-term vision for the EU's rural areas. The range of challenges facing such areas is acknowledged. They include issues relating to demographic change, such as the loss of population from remote rural areas, lower levels of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, poor access to services, and issues concerning connectivity. A lower proportion of households in rural regions have access to next generation broadband compared ...

In June 2021, the European Commission published a communication setting out a long-term vision for the EU's rural areas. The range of challenges facing such areas is acknowledged. They include issues relating to demographic change, such as the loss of population from remote rural areas, lower levels of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, poor access to services, and issues concerning connectivity. A lower proportion of households in rural regions have access to next generation broadband compared to the EU average. Tertiary education and basic digital skill levels are lower in rural areas and a significant gap exists between male and female employment rates. The share of young people aged 15 to 29 years neither in employment nor in education or training is higher in rural areas. The response set out in the Commission's communication includes proposals for a rural pact engaging actors at EU, national, regional and local levels to support the vision and an action plan to support stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous rural areas. A rural observatory will be established to improve data collection and analysis on the situation of rural areas. In support of its proposals, the Commission will put in place a rural proofing mechanism to assess the anticipated impact of major EU legislative initiatives on rural areas. Offering an initial analysis of the communication and its implications for future policy for rural areas, this briefing examines the challenges and opportunities these areas face. It summarises the views and responses of stakeholders regarding the Commission's long-term vision and the findings of the public consultation launched by the Commission in September 2020. Evidence is also presented on the levels of trust rural dwellers have in the different levels of governance. The key drivers that will shape rural areas between now and 2040 are identified from the findings of a foresight analysis undertaken by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), which is included in the communication. Lastly, consideration is given to the experience of applying the rural proofing mechanism, including perspectives on its utility and application in practice.

Development of organic production in the EU: 2021-2027 action plan

28-07-2021

In May 2020, the European Commission published its 'farm to fork' strategy – 'for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system' – along with the EU biodiversity strategy, as part of the implementation of the European Green Deal. In those strategies the Commission set a target of 25 % of the EU's agricultural land to be under organic farming by 2030, as well as a significant increase in organic aquaculture. These targets aim to contribute to improving the sustainability of the food system ...

In May 2020, the European Commission published its 'farm to fork' strategy – 'for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system' – along with the EU biodiversity strategy, as part of the implementation of the European Green Deal. In those strategies the Commission set a target of 25 % of the EU's agricultural land to be under organic farming by 2030, as well as a significant increase in organic aquaculture. These targets aim to contribute to improving the sustainability of the food system, to reverse biodiversity loss and to reduce the use of chemical substances in the form of pesticides and fertilisers. The Commission's 2021 work programme set out its intention to prepare an action plan for the development of organic production for the 2021 to 2027 period, and the action plan was published on 25 March 2021. Offering an initial analysis of the action plan, this briefing outlines the measures envisaged and the implications for different stages of the food chain in the EU. It also examines the results of the public consultation launched by the Commission in September 2020 to gather stakeholders' views on the challenges and opportunities for the organic sector. The views of key stakeholders in response to the publication of the action plan are also covered, along with the initial views expressed by the advisory committees.

EU rural development policy: Impact, challenges and outlook

08-07-2021

On 30 June 2021, the European Commission adopted a communication on its long-term vision for the EU's rural areas. The communication identifies areas of action with a view to creating new momentum for the EU's rural areas, while recognising their diversity. In recent decades, in many Member States rural areas have experienced depopulation. Such regions face a range of environmental and socio-economic challenges. These include, for example, lower income per capita, a higher percentage of the population ...

On 30 June 2021, the European Commission adopted a communication on its long-term vision for the EU's rural areas. The communication identifies areas of action with a view to creating new momentum for the EU's rural areas, while recognising their diversity. In recent decades, in many Member States rural areas have experienced depopulation. Such regions face a range of environmental and socio-economic challenges. These include, for example, lower income per capita, a higher percentage of the population at risk of poverty and social exclusion, a lack of access to basic infrastructure and services, and lower levels of access to fast broadband internet. The EU's rural development policy has sought to help address these challenges. Evaluation evidence is emerging on the impact of the common agricultural policy (CAP) on the territorial development of the EU's rural areas. Measures relating to village renewal and LEADER (Liaison entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie rurale) measures are considered to be well-targeted and relevant to local needs, although they represent a small proportion of CAP financing. Administrative burdens have been raised as an issue that can impact on the developmental process. Recommendations from this evaluation evidence point to the need for better integration of funding streams, the need to maintain a dialogue across the European structural funds, and all the implications this may have for the new CAP strategic plans. The Commission's recommendations to Member States on their CAP strategic plans highlight a number of recurring themes relating to the employment, education and training needs of rural areas, including the need to address rural depopulation, promote generational renewal, improve connectivity, and address the role played by action taken at local level. The Commission's communication on a long-term vision for rural areas includes provision for a 'rural pact' to engage actors at EU, national, rural and local levels and an EU rural action plan, setting out a range of initiatives and actionable projects. The vision and its supporting analyses will provide a framework for addressing the future of the EU's rural areas.

EU long-term vision for rural areas: Pre-legislative synthesis of national, regional and local positions on the European Commission's initiative

29-06-2021

This Briefing forms part of an EPRS series offering syntheses of the pre-legislative state of play and consultation on key European Commission priorities during the current five-year term. It summarises the state of affairs in the relevant policy field, examines how existing policy is working on the ground, and, where possible, identifies best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of the EU system of multilevel governance. EPRS analysis of the positions ...

This Briefing forms part of an EPRS series offering syntheses of the pre-legislative state of play and consultation on key European Commission priorities during the current five-year term. It summarises the state of affairs in the relevant policy field, examines how existing policy is working on the ground, and, where possible, identifies best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of the EU system of multilevel governance. EPRS analysis of the positions of partner governmental organisations at EU, national, regional and local levels suggests that these public authorities would like the following main considerations to be reflected in discussions on the forthcoming Commission communication on the long-term vision for rural areas: • The EU level recognises that rural areas represent the fabric of European society. There is a growing concern at the EU level that some citizens living in remote rural areas feel 'left behind'. • Local and regional authorities point out that, if the rural agenda is to be successful, it cannot be based on a one-size-fits-all approach, but needs to be tailored to territories' specificities. This applies, for instance, to overcoming demographic challenges. • When it comes to digitalisation and mobility, all levels of governance see the provision of infrastructure as a necessary – but not sufficient – condition for progress. There is a consensus on the importance of bottom-up participation of local communities to meet local needs, which is behind the 'smart village' concept. • Governmental organisations at all levels of governance see environment protection and action against climate change as a pre-condition for growth. There is a clear call to modernise the farming sector, coupled with the need to diversify the rural economy as whole. According to public bodies at local, regional and national levels, the experience with the Covid-19 pandemic has proven that there are potential opportunities for future development of rural areas, starting with jobs that can be carried-out remotely. • Regional and local administrations call for EU and national administrative procedures to be made less cumbersome and for different types of funds to be streamlined and combined, applying a 'multi-fund' approach. Finally, the evidence gathered points to additional funding opportunities for rural areas. These include concrete cases of private initiatives, national intervention when the provision of a public good is not commercially viable, and State aid and tax credits, when appropriate.

CAP strategic plans: Issues and expectations for EU agriculture

12-05-2021

The European Commission's legislative proposals for the reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) were published in June 2018. Since then a number of significant developments have occurred in this policy area. These include the adoption of the European Green Deal and its associated initiatives of the 'farm to fork' strategy and the biodiversity strategy, and also the agreement on the 2021 2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) alongside additional support of €7.5 billion for rural development ...

The European Commission's legislative proposals for the reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) were published in June 2018. Since then a number of significant developments have occurred in this policy area. These include the adoption of the European Green Deal and its associated initiatives of the 'farm to fork' strategy and the biodiversity strategy, and also the agreement on the 2021 2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) alongside additional support of €7.5 billion for rural development from the Next Generation EU initiative as part of the recovery and resilience package. The European Parliament adopted its first-reading position on the Commission's proposals on 23 October 2020. This position constitutes the basis for negotiations between Council and Parliament, which started on 10 November 2020. In December 2020, the Commission adopted its recommendations to each Member State on the preparation of their CAP national strategic plans. Meanwhile, a number of observations and commentaries have been published on CAP reform. These have highlighted some of the key differences between the proposal adopted by the Commission and the positions adopted by the European Parliament and Council. A range of stakeholders and others have also expressed their views on the CAP reform. The main challenge for the future EU farm policy will be how to address environmental concerns while maintaining farm viability. The nature and scale of the issues facing EU agriculture also represent significant challenges for the strategic planning process along with the content and ambition of the new CAP strategic plans, including the governance framework for the new policy. The Portuguese Presidency of the Council has indicated that reaching an agreement on the CAP reform negotiations in spring 2021 is one of its main objectives. The outcome of the trilogue negotiations will determine the future direction of the EU's agricultural policy, including how the CAP will contribute towards the achievement of the targets contained within the European Green Deal. Much will depend on the design of the new CAP strategic plans, including the effectiveness and efficiency of the measures chosen and their subsequent implementation.

EU climate action policy: Responding to the global emergency

18-03-2021

The European Green Deal aims to make the European Union climate-neutral by 2050, a target supported by all EU institutions. With this objective, the EU takes a leading role in addressing the global climate emergency. Achieving the climate-neutrality goal requires massive investment and an unprecedented transformation of all sectors of the economy. This study explains the physical basis of climate change and highlights its expected impacts on the EU. To give an overview of EU and international climate ...

The European Green Deal aims to make the European Union climate-neutral by 2050, a target supported by all EU institutions. With this objective, the EU takes a leading role in addressing the global climate emergency. Achieving the climate-neutrality goal requires massive investment and an unprecedented transformation of all sectors of the economy. This study explains the physical basis of climate change and highlights its expected impacts on the EU. To give an overview of EU and international climate policies, it outlines international climate agreements, EU climate action and the climate policies of major economies. It assesses the coherence of EU climate policy with other policy areas, and presents the financing of EU climate action through the EU budget and other instruments. To assess the implications of the climate neutrality objective, the study analysis the challenges and opportunities for the EU economy and its impacts on issues such as international relations, migration, trade, consumers and health . The final chapter addresses the issues facing European decision-makers and the outlook for European and global climate action in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

Smart villages: Concept, issues and prospects for EU rural areas

01-03-2021

Although there is no legal definition of a 'smart village' within EU legislation, there are a number of distinguishing features associated with the smart village concept, with the involvement of the local community and the use of digital tools being seen as core elements. The concept implies the participation of local people in improving their economic, social or environmental conditions, cooperation with other communities, social innovation and the development of smart village strategies. Digital ...

Although there is no legal definition of a 'smart village' within EU legislation, there are a number of distinguishing features associated with the smart village concept, with the involvement of the local community and the use of digital tools being seen as core elements. The concept implies the participation of local people in improving their economic, social or environmental conditions, cooperation with other communities, social innovation and the development of smart village strategies. Digital technologies can be applied to many aspects of living and working in rural areas. The smart village concept also suggests the adoption of smart solutions in both the public and private sectors over a wide range of policy fields such as improving access to services, developing short food supply chains and developing renewable energy sources. The smart village concept is gaining traction on the rural development agenda, coinciding with the ongoing reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP). A key element of this reform will be a new delivery model based on each Member State developing a CAP strategic plan. In December 2020, the Commission published its recommendations for each Member State on the direction their plans need to take to achieve the CAP objectives and the European Green Deal targets. The Commission's analysis highlight the gaps Member States must address if the Green Deal target of 100 % access to fast broadband internet in rural areas by 2025 is to be met. Much will depend on how Member States respond to these recommendations in drawing up their CAP strategic plans. The European Parliament has made a significant contribution to the smart village concept, taking part in a pilot project on smart eco-villages and supporting the European Commission's 2017 action plan for smarter villages. The European Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee have meanwhile both indicated their support for the concept through events, opinions and communications.

CAP strategic plans

18-01-2021

The Commission's legislative proposals on the future of the common agricultural policy (CAP) were published on 1 June 2018. They comprise three proposals: a regulation setting out rules on support for CAP strategic plans; a regulation on the single common market organisation (CMO) and a horizontal regulation on financing, managing and monitoring the CAP. The proposal for a regulation on CAP strategic plans introduces a new delivery model, described by the Commission as a fundamental shift in the ...

The Commission's legislative proposals on the future of the common agricultural policy (CAP) were published on 1 June 2018. They comprise three proposals: a regulation setting out rules on support for CAP strategic plans; a regulation on the single common market organisation (CMO) and a horizontal regulation on financing, managing and monitoring the CAP. The proposal for a regulation on CAP strategic plans introduces a new delivery model, described by the Commission as a fundamental shift in the CAP, involving a shift from compliance towards results and performance. It includes a new distribution of responsibilities between the EU and Member States. A new planning process is proposed which will cover both Pillar I (direct payments) and Pillar II (rural development) of the CAP. Second edition of a briefing originally drafted by James McEldowney and Patrick Kelly. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Older people in the European Union's rural areas: Issues and challenges

10-12-2020

One of the key demographic challenges facing rural areas is the ageing population, not only among farmers but also among the rural population in general. This paper examines the demographic profile of older people in the EU's rural areas, and presents a series of issues pertaining to the situation facing older people. Topics covered include health and access to services, issues of social isolation and loneliness, the role of technology and lifelong learning, access to social care, and the impact ...

One of the key demographic challenges facing rural areas is the ageing population, not only among farmers but also among the rural population in general. This paper examines the demographic profile of older people in the EU's rural areas, and presents a series of issues pertaining to the situation facing older people. Topics covered include health and access to services, issues of social isolation and loneliness, the role of technology and lifelong learning, access to social care, and the impact of climate change. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has brought the health status of older people more sharply into focus and highlighted their vulnerability. The views of a number of stakeholders are summarised along with the measures available under the EU's rural development policy and other structural funds.

EU agricultural policy and health: Some historical and contemporary issues

23-10-2020

This paper examines the links between agriculture and health in the EU. Following an explanation of the links between agriculture, nutrition and diet, a chronology of some of the key studies and developments in this field is provided. This begins with an examination of efforts in the early 1970s to address high rates of cardiovascular disease before moving onto more recent assessments of the role of the EU's common agricultural policy in relation to nutrition-related public health matters, and the ...

This paper examines the links between agriculture and health in the EU. Following an explanation of the links between agriculture, nutrition and diet, a chronology of some of the key studies and developments in this field is provided. This begins with an examination of efforts in the early 1970s to address high rates of cardiovascular disease before moving onto more recent assessments of the role of the EU's common agricultural policy in relation to nutrition-related public health matters, and the extent to which the policy has influenced current dietary patterns. A brief overview is provided of the health status of EU citizens, including some key features and trends in EU health, diets and nutrition. The paper also takes account of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including its implications for health considerations across all policies. Drawing on the range of studies and commentaries consulted, the paper concludes with a number of ways in which agriculture and agricultural policies can address or have an impact on the EU's public health challenges.

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