Brussels -- The European Commission has today approved a further 24 Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) aimed at improving the competitiveness of the EU farming sector, caring for the countryside and climate, and strengthening the economic and social fabric of rural communities in the period until 2020. The programmes adopted today are expected to create over 40 000 jobs in rural areas and about 700 000 training places to foster innovation, knowledge transfer, more sustainable farming practices and stronger rural businesses. Funding worth 27 billion EUR from the EU budget, co-financed by further public funding at national/regional level and/or private funds, is made available.
Modernisation of farms, support to young farmers, sustainable land management and improved broadband infrastructures are among the priority actions of the adopted regional and national programmes. The Member States concerned are Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Welcoming today's decisions, EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: 'One of the great strengths of our Rural Development concept is that we have core priorities, but it is up to each Member State or region to design a programme which suits its challenges and opportunities. The programmes adopted today offer funding for a range of dynamic projects, varying from modernisation projects for agriculture and encouraging generational renewal in Croatia and Romania, to rolling out broadband to sparsely populated areas in Emilia Romagna and support for organic farming in Sweden or enhancing environmentally friendly land management on 1 million hectares of farmland in Ireland. Boosting the knowledge base of our farm sector is an important aspect of the RDPs. I am pleased to see that almost all of today's programmes will support innovation projects under the European Innovation Partnership'.
Support for Rural Development is the so-called 2nd Pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy, providing Member States with an envelope of EU funding to manage nationally or regionally under multi-annual, co-funded programmes. In total, 118 programmes are foreseen in all 28 Member States, backed by € 99.6 billion of EU funding over the period 2014-2020 through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), with these measures co-funded by additional national, regional and private finance. Today's adoptions bring the number of approved RDPs up to 51 meaning that programmes worth more than 62 billion EUR (roughly 62,4 % of the budget) have now been approved. The new Rural Development Regulation for the 2014-2020 period addresses six economic, environmental and social priorities, and programmes contain clear targets setting out what is to be achieved. Moreover, in order to coordinate actions better and maximise synergies with the other European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF), a Partnership Agreement has been agreed with each Member State highlighting its broad strategy for EU-funded structural investment.