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  Rural Networks’ Assembly meets again  

The second meeting of the European Rural Networks’ Assembly has taken stock of the implementation of European rural networking in 2015 and set out priority directions for 2016.

The 2nd Rural Networks’ Assembly took place in Brussels on Thursday, 26 November 2015. Workshops focused on how to activate rural networks to: contribute to smart and competitive rural areas; advance the green economy; and tackle key issues in RDP implementation. It included presentations and discussion of the main themes and activities organised by the ENRD Contact Point, EIP-AGRI Service Point and Evaluation Helpdesk.

The Assembly brings together representatives of the main rural development stakeholder groups to provide strategic direction, guidance and advice for the work of the ENRD and EIP-AGRI networks.



 
All 118 RDPs approved!
The European Commission has now approved all 118 national and regional Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) for the 2014-2020 period.

Find the full texts of all RDPs, as well as supporting documents here. The ENRD Contact Point is also producing RDP info sheets, including an overview of the planned expenditure, measures and 2023 targets per rural development priority and focus area.


Improving access to EU funds 

The European Commission has launched a new online community platform to improve access to and use of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

Individuals involved in the funds’ management and beneficiaries are invited to share their ideas on simplifying and reducing the administrative burden in the implementation of ESIF.
See also a guide on how to avoid the most common errors in projects funded by the ESIF.

Agricultural solutions to climate change

The initiatives focus on sustainable production methods and resilience of farmers; soil management; the livestock sector; and food waste to protect the long-term livelihoods of farmers and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As agriculture is one of the sectors most seriously affected by extreme climate, but also accounts for 24% of GHG emissions, a global agricultural transition is likely to begin with the eventual COP21 agreement.


Linking agriculture to the bioeconomy

A series of outputs from a recent European conference explore the interactions between the bioeconomy and sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries. They specifically look to identify potential challenges for production, as well as implications for future policy agendas.

The tools include a publication on ‘Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the Bioeconomy: a Challenge for Europe’, infographics on ‘Scenarios for a Sustainable Bioeconomy’ available in all official EU languages, and dedicated stakeholder conference materials.


New soil management tool 

A new online tool enables farmers and advisers to identify cost-effective, soil-friendly practices in order to improve crop productivity and mitigate climate change.

The SmartSOIL toolbox also includes real life case studies, factsheets and videos allowing farmers to select soil management options that best match their farming systems, soils and climates.
It is available in English, German, Polish, Spanish, Italian, Danish and Hungarian.

Web platforms support rural producers

EIP-AGRI has recently highlighted that web platforms enabling direct purchases from farmers are efficient at both optimising produce delivery systems for wholesalers and generating higher income for producers.

Such online tools, putting farmers in direct contact with domestic and international buyers, are already operating in Bulgaria (platform available in Bulgarian, English and Romanian) and Spain (in English, French and Spanish).

Italian young farmer videos

A new series of short documentaries highlighting good rural development practices carried out by young farmers has been made available by the Italian National Rural Network (NRN).

The documentaries are part of a project, Videofarmers, collecting video material on EAFRD-funded projects and are all subtitled in English.
Rural broadband initiatives

Three projects working to improve the quality and speed of internet access in rural areas have recently been recognised by the first ever European Broadband Awards.  

The projects in Germany, Lithuania and Spain competed with 45 others from across Europe dealing with high-speed broadband networks.

For more information, also see a database of broadband best practices and an online platform with country-specific information on high-speed broadband access, national broadband strategies and funding instruments.

European Rural Parliament manifesto 

The second European Rural Parliament has approved a ‘European Rural Manifesto’ advocating action on 30 key issues in the aim of improving the quality of life in rural areas and achieving equitable partnerships between people and governments.


The manifesto calls on the EU to review the condition of rural areas within its Member States and place a stronger focus on these areas within the relevant EU programmes and funds. It further advocates a territorial, partnership-based approach to rural development through improved and widespread application of LEADER/CLLD.

The Parliament was held in the beautiful small town of Schärding, Austria, 4-6 November 2015 and attended by over 240 delegates from 41 countries. The rural parliament campaign will continue over the coming years.

Short documentaries on Financial Instruments

Watch a series of videos to understand the usefulness of Financial Instruments (FIs) as a means of recycling rural development funding to stimulate growth and create jobs.

Launched by the advisory platform fi-compass, the videos aim to show how FIs can help deliver on the objectives of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in 2014-2020. They accompany a series of ongoing fi-compass events throughout Europe.

EU farms and farmers: an update

Eurostat has recently published updated statistical data on EU farms and farmers based on the findings of its farm structure survey 2013.

The data traces the evolution of key agricultural trends for the period 2003-2013. It includes farm numbers, farm sizes, land ownership, livestock numbers, as well as characteristics of the agricultural labour force.  DG AGRI has also produced a summary of the main findings.

Social innovation for agriculture

A new publication ‘Revolutionary solutions for local food systems’ by AiCARE overviews practices from around the world aiming to reconnect agriculture and food chains with societal needs.

The examples include both technical and community-based solutions in the areas of environment, food, knowledge and welfare needs.
 


 
   
15 December 2015  
Estonian Ruralab
Janeda, Estonia
The Estonian Ruralab will be organised jointly with the Estonian Network Support Unit and will be held in connection with a meeting of the Cooperation Council, the steering body of the Estonian Rural Network.
 
16 December 2015 
1st Meeting of ENRD Thematic Group ‘Promoting the Transition to a Green Economy'
Brussels, Belgium
The Thematic Group will aim to identify practical and proactive ways of supporting the transition to a more sustainable green rural economy using rural development tools and supporting the use of energy and resource efficient investments to stimulate jobs and growth.
 
12 January 2015
Innovative Agriculture: Challenges and Solutions for Sustainable and Competitive Food Production
Brussels, Belgium
The event will gather European and national decision-makers and C-level executives to discuss the challenges facing the current food production and the solutions to produce food more efficiently, safely and sustainably.
 
14 January 2016  
Europe’s Opportunity in Digital Agriculture
Brussels, Belgium
The event will bring together policy-makers, industry representatives and researchers in the areas of agriculture and ICT to identify opportunities to move towards a digital agriculture industry.
  
14-16 January 2016  
Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, GFFA 2016
Berlin, Germany
Held within the framework of the International Green week, this international conference focuses on central questions concerning the future of the global agri-food industry. The 2016 edition will be held on the subject "How to feed our cities? - Agriculture and rural areas in an era of urbanisation".
 
15-24 January 2016
International Green Week
Berlin, Germany
The 81st edition of IGW will feature multiple exhibitions of the food, agricultural and horticultural industries, as well as events addressing topics such as organic agriculture, rural development and renewable resources.
 
19 January 2016
ENRD Workshop on LEADER/CLLD
Brussels, Belgium
The workshop will address the design and applicability of Simplified Cost Options (SCOs) to LEADER/CLLD particularly in relation to ‘preparatory support’ and ‘running costs and animation’.
 
20-21 January 2016  
Forum on the Future of the Rural Areas
Berlin, Germany
Held within the framework of the International Green week, this event organised by the German Ministry of Agriculture will discuss the various aspects that contribute to rural areas’ dynamism and innovation potential. 
  
27-28 January 2016  
Organic Producers' Conference
Bristol, UK
The 10th edition of the conference will bring together producers interested in ecological approaches to sustainable food production with researchers and advisers to share ideas on making agriculture perform better for their businesses and society.
  
1 February 2016   
European Conference "Unlocking the Potential of RDPs"
Brussels, Belgium
The conference will present an overview of Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) across the EU and discuss questions relating to implementation bottlenecks, scope for simplification and good practice on programming and result reporting, including the role of networks.
 
8 February 2016
New Rural Development Plans and the Environment: The Hidden Truth?
Brussels, Belgium
The event will discuss the potential of Rural Development Programmes’ planning and implementation to make the best of greening and other environment-related measures.
 
15-17 February 2016  
5th National Rural Development Forum
Zaragoza, Spain
Organised in the framework of the International Fair of Agricultural Machinery (FIMA 2016), this forum will enable the exchange of experience from the public and private sectors, as well as young farmers’ practices, to tackle economic and social challenges faced by youth living in rural areas..
 
16 February 2016  
LEADER/CLLD Sub-group Meeting
Brussels, Belgium
Save the date. More details to follow.
 
18 February 2016  
4th Innovation Sub-group Meeting
Brussels, Belgium
Save the date. More details to follow.


  
27 February – 6 March 2016 
Paris International Agricultural Show
Paris, France
This exhibition is the annual meeting place for key players in the world of agriculture. It is organised around four sectors: livestock breeding; products and gastronomy; crops, plants, nature and lifestyle; and agricultural services and professions.
 
29 February - 1 March 2016  
National Rural Networks’ Meeting
Bled, Slovenia
The fourth NRNs’ meeting for the period 2014-2020 will support Network Support Units (NSUs) in identifying and developing relevant activities to improve the implementation of Rural Development Programmes (RDPs).
 
4 March 2016  
Rural Networks’ Steering Group Meeting
Brussels, Belgium
Save the date. More details to follow.
 
22 March 2016 
9th Forum for the Future of Agriculture
Brussels, Belgium
The forum, jointly organised by the European Landowners’ Organisation (ELO) and Syngenta, aims to stimulate debate on sustainable agriculture and environmental challenges.
  
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