AUTHORS: David Baldock-Vicki Swales-Martin Farmer
On July 14 2004, the European Commission published a proposal for a European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), essentially a new Rural Development Regulation (RDR). The proposal is currently under negotiation and is expected to be finalised by summer 2005. Some potential revisions to the original proposal were published on 13 January 2005 and 4 March 2005, but these did not change the overall thrust of the EAFRD proposal. The proposal has significant implications for forestry at both the EU and Member State level. While it contains a number of measures likely to have a positive impact on forestry, several aspects of the proposals have raised concerns among stakeholders. These issues were explored during the seminar. The new proposal retains most of the existing rural development measures, rearranging them according to three broad objectives, translated into three ‘axes’ plus a fourth axis for LEADER:
- Axis 1 – improving the competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sectors
- Axis 2 – land management
- Axis 3 – diversification of the rural economy and the quality of life in rural areas
The new Fund for financing the measures brings together the current Guarantee and Guidance Section resources, subject to a single set of rules. The current LEADER initiative is also incorporated. Notable changes are introduced (compared to the existing RDR) to: the structure and programming of funds; the management of measures; the co-financing rates; the principles of designation and calculation of payment rates for Less Favoured Areas; the forestry measures; the principle of Good Farming Practice; overall administration; and the monitoring and evaluation of rural development programmes.