The EU’s rural development policy – the second pillar of the CAP – will receive €14 billion in funding in 2010. Whereas the overall CAP budget will likely be cut after 2013, rural development funds stand to increase further. Just about everyone agrees that the CAP has to do more to tackle challenges such as biodiversity loss and climate change, and that this can be best achieved through targeted measures of rural development policy. But how effective is the EU’s rural development policy really?
Ex-ante impact assessments and ex-post policy evaluations have become an integral part of the CAP. The Court of Auditors and other independent bodies – mandated by the Commission and the Member States – produce piles of reports every year. They look at the details of investments in farms and forestry, land management for environmental and landscape purposes, rural economic diversification and micro-business development etc.
The seminar focuses on the evaluation process for rural development programs and how this can inform and improve rural development policy in the EU. The research project presented at the seminar has analyzed the approach taken to evaluation. This has revealed important shortcomings in the way the EU assesses its rural development policy. Thus, one objective of the conference is to discuss how better evidence on the key questions of policy design can be gathered. This is a crucial challenge ahead of the fundamental post-2013 CAP reform.
In addition, the researchers have summarized the evidence that is available from existing evaluation reports, drawing lessons for the future direction of policy. This includes the tricky issue of how future rural development policies may interface with other policy concerns to address challenges facing agriculture and rural areas.
- Berkeley Hill, Emeritus Professor, University of London: Improving the evaluation of EU rural development policies.
- Janet Dwyer, Reader, University of Gloucestershire: What we have learned from evaluating EU rural development policies?
- David Blandford, Professor, Pennsylvania State University: Connecting the dots –achieving multiple policy objectives in Europe’s rural areas.
- Discussion round table moderated by Valentin Zahrnt, Research Associate at ECIPE.