Rural development and the linking of EU Funds
The CAP debate in Brussels: An inside view by Michael Dower
For the last year, ARC has been calling for the CAP post 2013 to be focused on a Paradigm shift in agriculture and a Rural Renaissance. We urged that the current second pillar of the CAP, which contains the rural development measures, should be succeeded by a true Rural Policy, and that this Policy should have a strong element of local delivery, building upon the LEADER experience but able to draw down funds not only from the CAP but also from the Regional, Social and Fisheries funds of the EU.
So, we were delighted when, in August last year, the Commissioners for Agriculture, Regions, Employment and Fisheries wrote a joint letter to the President of the Commission proposing that, from 2014 onwards, there should be a joint strategic framework for the rural, regional, cohesion, social and fisheries funds. In the ARC Communication, published in November 2010, we suggested how this link between the main developmental funds of the EU could be achieved at EU, national, regional and local level.
We now know that the Commission is thinking in the same way as us. At a Conference on 12-13 April, called by the Fisheries Directorate DG MARE, officials from the four directorates for Agriculture, Regions, Employment and Fisheries described the joint work that they are doing to clarify how the combined strategic framework proposed by the Commissioners might work in practice. They expect to propose that the principles in the framework should be reflected in harmonised Regulations for the four Funds, plus Common Guidance related to local development; that Member States should be required to produce national strategies with a scope parallel to that at EU Level; and that the Operational Programmes for each Fund produced at national or regional level will then reflect the integrated purpose of the national strategy. [read more]