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21.5.2.  EU rural development objectives and priorities

    According to Article 39 § 2a of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (ex Article Article 33 § 2,a TEC), in working out the common agricultural policy and the special methods for its application, account is to be taken of the particular nature of agricultural activity which results from the social structure of agriculture and from structural and natural disparities between the various rural areas. Therefore, a common rural development policy should accompany and complement the other instruments of the common agricultural policy and thus contribute to the achievement of the policy’s objectives as laid down in Article 39(1) of the TFEU. This policy should take into account the objectives set out in Articles 174 and 176 (TFEU, ex Articles 158 and 160 TEC) for the common policy of economic and social cohesion and contribute to their achievement [see section 12.1.2].

    Within the overall framework of the CAP, support for rural development, including for activities in the food and non-food sector and in forestry, should contribute to achieving the following objectives set by Regulation 1305/2013 [last amended by Regulation 2015/791]:

    (a) fostering the competitiveness of agriculture;

    (b) ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources, and climate action;

    (c) achieving a balanced territorial development of rural economies and communities.

    The achievement of the objectives of rural development, which contribute to the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, should be pursued through Union priorities for rural development, reflecting the relevant Thematic Objectives of the Common Strategic Framework ('CSF'), which establishes strategic guiding principles to facilitate the programming process and the sectoral and territorial coordination of Union intervention under the different Union Funds, policies and instruments [Regulation 1303/2013, last amended by Regulation 2015/1839 and Decision 2014/190, see section 12.3]. The Union priorities for rural development are the following six

    (1) fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry, and rural areas with a focus on the following areas:

    (a) fostering innovation, cooperation, and the development of the knowledge base in rural areas;

    (b) strengthening the links between agriculture, food production and forestry and research and innovation, including for the purpose of improved environmental management and performance;

    (c) fostering lifelong learning and vocational training in the agricultural and forestry sectors.

    (2) enhancing farm viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture in all regions and promoting innovative farm technologies and the sustainable management of forests, with a focus on the following areas:

    (a) improving the economic performance of all farms and facilitating farm restructuring and modernisation, notably with a view to increasing market participation and orientation as well as agricultural diversification;

    (b) facilitating the entry of adequately skilled farmers into the agricultural sector and, in particular, generational renewal.

    (3) promoting food chain organisation, including processing and marketing of agricultural products, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture, with a focus on the following areas:

    (a) improving competitiveness of primary producers by better integrating them into the agri-food chain through quality schemes, adding value to agricultural products, promotion in local markets and short supply circuits, producer groups and organisations and inter-branch organisations;

    (b) supporting farm risk prevention and management.

    (4) restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry, with a focus on the following areas:

    (a) restoring, preserving and enhancing biodiversity, including in Natura 2000 areas, and in areas facing natural or other specific constraints, and high nature value farming, as well as the state of European landscapes;

    (b) improving water management, including fertiliser and pesticide management;

    (c) preventing soil erosion and improving soil management.

    (5) promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift towards a low carbon and climate resilient economy in agriculture, food and forestry sectors, with a focus on the following areas:

    (a) increasing efficiency in water use by agriculture;

    (b) increasing efficiency in energy use in agriculture and food processing;

    (c) facilitating the supply and use of renewable sources of energy, of by-products, wastes and residues and of other non food raw material, for the purposes of the bio-economy;

    (d) reducing green house gas and ammonia emissions from agriculture;

    (e) fostering carbon conservation and sequestration in agriculture and forestry;

    (6) promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas, with a focus on the following areas:

    (a) facilitating diversification, creation and development of small enterprises, as well as job creation;

    (b) fostering local development in rural areas;

    (c) enhancing the accessibility, use and quality of information and communication technologies (ICT) in rural areas.

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