Rural development policy is the second pillar of the common agricultural policy. It is guided by the objectives set in Lisbon and Gothenburg areas for competitiveness and sustainable development.
Rural Development Policy identifies four main objectives:
- The competitiveness of the agriculture and food sector and forestry;
- The protection of landscape and the environment;
- The quality of life and diversification in rural areas;
- The Leader Community Initiative.
Measures, taken to raise competitiveness, are oriented to human and real capital, as well as to food products, among others – to produce high-quality products. In addition, measures are taken to protect natural resources, optimize the land and forest use with a high level of environmental protection, as well as to improve the cultural landscape. To improve the quality of life in rural areas, there is a policy to encourage the diversification of agricultural activities, and measures are being taken to improve the local infrastructure. As a part of the Leader Community Initiative, the diversification of economic activities in rural areas should be supported by innovative, integrative, and participatory strategies of territorial development.
Rural development policy is carried out in the designated financial framework and on the basis of a single planning. The Council has identified strategic directions for the period 2007-2013., which should become the basis for the national strategic plans. All the activities carried out starting from January 1, 2007, are financed by one fund, namely the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (ELER).
The attention of governments, international non-governmental, commercial organizations, and the scientific world to the question of rural development is dictated by the competent significance of the rural populace in the modern society, its contribution to the economic, cultural and spiritual life of the country, its historical role in social transformation, both developed and developing countries. However, many countries continue to neglect the rural sector.
The main resources are used for investment in the industry, maintaining public services, improve urban infrastructure, and living conditions in cities. For the rural population in many countries, it is increasingly difficult to escape from poverty. The process of integration of the peasantry into the national and global communities is very slow. The ability of the governments to meet the basic needs of rural population living in difficult social conditions is inadequate to its social status. Quality of life and well-being of farmers, their social living conditions are very different from the quality of life in urban environments.
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