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  First 2014-2020 RDPs approved!  

The first nine Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) of the new programming period 2014-2020 have been approved by the European Commission. The three national RDPs for Poland, Austria and Denmark were given the green light on 12 December. Approval of a further six RDPs from Germany, Finland and Portugal was announced on 16 December.

The news means that nine programmes covering 22% of the EU Rural Development budget 2014-2020 have already been approved. In total, 118 RDPs will be put in place for the new programming period, with a further 15-20 expected to be adopted in the first Quarter of 2015.

RDPs aim to achieve common economic, environmental and social objectives for rural areas in ways that are specific to their situation. Speaking on 12 December, the European Commissioner, Phil Hogan, highlighted the priority given in the RDP for Poland to “create more than 22 000 jobs”, in the RDP for Denmark to “fostering innovation, with the objective of creating almost 1 000 green jobs”, and in the RDP for Austria to “environment and climate concerns”.

New EU Rural Networks Assembly launched
The Commission has adopted a new structure to reinforce dialogue on Rural Development Programmes (RDPs). The new EU Networks’ Assembly will provide strategic direction, guidance and advice to the work of the ENRD and EIP-AGRI networks. Comprised of 200 stakeholder representatives, the Assembly will hold its first annual meeting 26 January 2015.

Commissioner Hogan has said: "I am pleased to announce this new, broader forum to discuss how Rural Development programmes work in practice and how they can be further improved in future. The aim is to bring together the successful [ENRD] and the new [EIP-AGRI network] with the aim of improving the coordination of activities and achieving synergies and efficiency gains for achieving Rural Development objectives."

The 200 members of the Assembly will be representatives of: Rural Management Authorities; Paying Agencies; National Rural Networks; European NGOs; organisations of regional/local authorities; Local Action Groups; and agricultural advisory and research bodies. Find out more.

Scotland embraces Rural Parliament approach

Scotland has held its first ever Rural Parliament, joining Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Romania in adopting a model which brings together rural voices to influence and inform rural development policy.

Held in Oban, 6-8 November, the 2014 Scottish Rural Parliament was attended by over 400 representatives of rural agencies, businesses and other stakeholders. It was preceded by a series of preparatory local events.

Participants highlighted the need for increased networking and representation of rural communities and for specific actions, including to improve transport and broadband access in rural areas. Organisers are now working to agree a full plan of action with the Scottish Government.
Commissioner Hogan prioritises young farmers and CAP simplification

Highlighting the central place of agriculture and rural development in the EU’s Jobs Growth and Investment Agenda, Phil Hogan has stressed the importance of supporting young farmers and the “top priority” of reducing bureaucratic ‘red tape’ in implementing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2014-2020.

In a speech to the European Parliament, Commissioner Hogan emphasised that “Simpler rules will make for greater competitiveness and will enhance the job-creating potential of agriculture, of rural areas and of agricultural trade.” The Commission is “working to improve access to finance for farmers, particularly young farmers, as they start their career in agriculture.”

Agriculture MEPs welcomed Commissioner Hogan’s plans to simplify the CAP, but also called for more actions to help milk farmers facing a “crisis in the dairy sector”.

National agreements for more strategic use of EU funds
All 28 EU Member States have now signed Partnership Agreements (PAs) with the European Commission on their use of the five European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), including the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
The national-level agreements set out each Member State’s strategy for ensuring optimal use of ESIF funding, 2014-2020. They define common strategic goals and investment priorities, aiming to ensure a more strategic and complementary use of the five funds. This aims ultimately to provide greater impact and better outcomes towards the EU’s objectives, including on rural development.
Watch Italian young farmer best practice videos

A series of documentaries - subtitled in English - dedicated to good rural development practices carried out by young farmers has been released by the Italian National Rural Network.

The films are the winners of this year’s competition ‘New Success Factors’, launched by the NRN’s Videofarmers project. The videos provide real-life stories of individual young people starting out in new farming initiatives. The projects are about the transfer of farms to new generations and the potential for fresh ideas and new approaches to agricultural businesses.

New European Land Stewardship network launched

A new European Land Stewardship Network has been created to promote co-operation for improved land management and nature and biodiversity conservation in Europe. The new network was announced at the First European Land Stewardship Congress, 5-8 November 2014.

The network aims to become a reference point in its field and to develop specific actions such as creating an inventory of good land stewardship practices and improving monitoring mechanisms. The network will carry on the work undertaken by the now-completed LandLife project.

Watch rural research Info Day presentations

Video recordings and slides from the recent Horizon 2020 Info Day on research opportunities in the three fields of ‘sustainable food security’, ‘blue growth’, and ‘the bioeconomy’ are now available online. Each video includes the presentations, accompanying slides and questions and answers from each of the three sessions.

The Info Day covered presentation and discussion of the Calls for Proposals for research under ‘Societal Challenge 2’ in 2015, the topics falling under each call, as well as the process and requirements for submitting a proposal.
Organic Farming Infographics

The European Commission has published a series of ‘infographics’ on Organic Farming in the EU, translated in all official EU languages. The infographics provide attractive visual presentations of key facts, figures and important information on the ‘EU Organic Farming (R)Evolution’.
Information provided includes the top five EU countries for organic farming, the support available to organic producers in the EU, the global market for organic produce and the EU organic logo.

  16-25 January 2015  
International Green Week Berlin 2015  
Berlin, Germany
The 80th edition of International Green Week will feature multiple exhibitions of the food, agricultural and horticultural industries, as well as events addressing topics such as the future of rural areas, organic agriculture, rural development and renewable resources.
  19-20 January 2015
Financial Instruments 2014-2020 under European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)
Brussels, Belgium
The event will provide guidance on the implementation of the 2014-2020 EU financial instruments, including the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
  22-23 January 2015
Workshop on biosecurity in the EU
Brussels, Belgium
The DG-AGRI workshop aims to contribute to innovation for ‘on-farm biosecurity’ in the production of poultry, ruminants and pigs by identifying appropriate biosecurity measures and best practices.
  22 January 2015  
2015 Policy Conference ‘Countryside Values for the 21st Century’
London, UK
This Countryside and Community Research Institute event will debate the latest research in inclusive food systems, rural policy, and innovation for sustainable farm businesses.
  26 January 2015  
EU Rural Networks’ Assembly
Brussels, Belgium
The new Assembly brings together the stakeholders of the ENRD and EIP-AGRI network to advise the European Commission on how to better put Rural Development Programmes into practice.
  29 January 2015
CAP Communication Awards - Networking event
Brussels, Belgium
The event will bring together professionals communicating the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and showcase best practice examples of ‘communication to stakeholders,’ ‘communication to the public,’ and ‘innovative communication.’
  5-6 February 2015  
Séminaire “Entrepreneuriat rural et gouvernance locale : réalités québécoises et françaises”
Agen, France
The seminar will examine good practices of rural entrepreneurship and local governance in Quebec to draw lessons for the work of the future French NRN and identify areas of co-operation.
  10-11 February 2015  
Good Food & Good Farming Event
Brussels, Belgium
ARC 2020 is organising this two-day conference and gathering aimed at renewing civil society’s agenda towards sustainable food and agriculture, including in the context of the CAP.

21 February 2015  
Sustainable production and environment protection (agro-ecology)
Paris, France
The Can EU CAP it? project will be present at the Salon International de l'Agriculture with an event on agro-ecology.
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