Rural development: A more difficult balancing act

The European Court of Auditors has concluded that a new planning process for rural development takes too long and is too complex.

The court found that shortcomings, which hinder performance and results, are built into the system. The primary objectives of EU rural development policy aim to make agriculture more competitive, ensure the sustainable management of natural resources, and achieve the balanced development of rural economies and communities.

The EU plans to spend nearly €100bn on rural development up to 2020. It already channels €58bn a year — 38% of the EU budget — to the rural economy, through CAP. These are vast sums of money and should have a positive impact on our countryside.However, balancing agricultural development with environmental responsibility is becoming ever more difficult.

Months after Hitler sent his armies to invade Russia, some of his soldiers found the endless steppe dispiriting. Despite advancing for months, they were still crossing an almost empty environment. These unchanging plains had a deep psychological impact. Anyone travelling through Munster’s fertile regions today might be forgiven for feeling as those Germans did — much of the province is dedicated to industrial-scale milk production. This is hardly balanced development. The question of how long EU taxpayers will support this polluting monoculture becomes ever more pressing.


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