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Towards Vibrant, Inclusive and Sustainable Rural Regions: Orientations for a Future Rural Cohesion Policy

Thomas Dax, Andrew Copus

In accordance with the dynamics of spatial development, rural regions are increasingly characterized by interactive integration into their wider spatial contexts. The complexity of drivers and the wide array of socio-economic changes contrast with the inertia of the framework of European Rural Development Programmes elaborated over the past decade. To enable enhanced participation, more effective socio-economic performance, and ecological benefits, future rural policy requires a step change in its intervention logic. Rather than slight adaptations of current rural policy orientations, a more radical vision for “Rural Cohesion Policy” is proposed. Such an approach would address all economic sectors, strengthen inclusive social action and environmental enhancement, and be targeted at harnessing place-specific development opportunities. It would also necessitate explicit acknowledgement of particular rural development issues across a range of policy fields, and greater coherence between the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). The core interest would be to a focus on policy implementation that seeks effective ways to nurture local and regional assets through diverse policy fields, in order to improve well-being and promote ecological beneficial developments in European rural regions.

Thomas Dax, Bundesanstalt für Bergbauernfragen / Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas, Vienna, Austria; Andrew Copus, James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK;


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