Vulcz, LászlóWhat is the Direction of the European and National Rural Development?

Vulcz, László

Keywords: research, rural development, rural policy, Common Agricultural Policy, local development JEL: Q18, R11

In the 2021-2027 programming period, the implementation of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) retained its independence with increasing agricultural and environmental focus. However, the current rural development interventions meet the development needs of rural areas less and less. In a broader sense, development resources impact employment in several sectors, especially the construction industry. Suppose we disregard these figures and solely examine the agricultural sector employment data. In that case, we can conclude that, despite the high funding resources allocated to the farming sector, the importance of agriculture is decreasing both in employment and in maintaining the population of the countryside. Some directorates-general of the European Commission regards the resources assigned to them as their own, and this attitude also exists in the formulation and implementation of domestic programs. The ministries treat the resources allocated to them as their own. Horizontal coordination and regulation between the programs took place at different levels in each EU budget period, but I believe it never reached the level at which regional planning fully integrated into strategy formulation.
In my view, one of the most critical tools and opportunities for developing the countryside is to create growth poles that cover the whole country as fully as possible by promoting investments at the government level (top-down). However, at the same time, bottom-up initiatives in urban and rural areas must also be supported to realise the locally formulated development needs. To achieve this, Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) and LEADER provide a suitable tool, but the central and peripheral areas, from a planning point of view, must be managed complexly. Based on my professional experience, in a region’s development, it is impossible to strictly separate larger cities from municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants, i.e., their coordinated development is necessary.