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Evaluation of policies in terms of the multifunctionality of agriculture and rural space: more integrative conceptual and analytical frameworks needed

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A status-quo analysis of the way the question of the multifunctionality of agriculture and of rural space is dealt with in policy evaluation is given. Focus is on conceptual frameworks, tools and methods. The paper builds on a review of policy evaluation practice and experiences in six different EU member states and of a summative review for Central and Eastern European countries (CEE). It is argued that European level evaluation procedures and guidelines that fully correspond with the concept of a multifunctional agriculture and rural space yet have to be developed. In terms of future research it is concluded that more holistic concepts need to be adopted, focussed on the potential of agriculture to fulfil new societal goals, to contribute to rural employment, to improve the viability of rural areas, particularly in less favoured areas. Quantitative tools must be linked in more effective ways with qualitative, discursive and consultative approaches.

Keywords: policy evaluation, agricultural multifunctionality, multifunctional agriculture, rural space, sustainable development, sustainability, conceptual frameworks, institutions, tools, indicators, monitoring, data, information systems, consultation, discursive approaches, research gaps, EU, European Union, Central and Eastern European, CEE

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