Support of rural development
Rural areas account for by far the greatest part of German territory and large segments of the German population. People living in rural areas not only produce safe and high-quality foods that are available everyday, they also generate more than one third of the national economic output. Rural areas play an important role for society. They possess vast agricultural, natural and cultural diversity. The protection and sustainable use of natural resources is vital to our existence.
The Common Agricultural Policy has become increasingly important for the development of rural areas. In 2000, a second pillar of agricultural policy was created in addition to the market policy for agricultural products. The aim of the Common Agricultural Policy's second pillar is to strengthen and improve the competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sector, the environment and the countryside, the diversification of the rural economy and the quality of life in rural areas in general. Agricultural policy has set itself the task of making a major contribution towards rural development that goes beyond agriculture and forestry.
The second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy offers a wide range of measures to tackle the challenges. The EU Regulation on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD Regulation) is the basis which establishes the range of possible measures for rural development support in the 2007-2013 programming period.
The Länder (federal states) have their own development programmes for rural areas which determine what is to be supported in the regions.
These development programmes follow the National Strategy Plan which defines the strategic direction of support measures. This National Strategy Plan was drawn up by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in close cooperation with the federal states. It coordinates their development programmes by specifying the overarching support objectives, describing the strategic concept for achieving these objectives and allocat-ing the EU funds to the federal states.
In Germany, the Joint Task for the Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection (GAK) is an essential element of the national strategy and constitutes the thematic and financial core of many Länder programmes. It contains a wide range of agricultural structures and infrastructure measures, thus covering large parts of the scope of the EAFRD Regulation. Most GAK measures can be strengthened via EAFRD funds from Brussels. Through the GAK scheme, more than EUR 600 million of federal funds alone are made available for the development of agriculture and rural areas every year. Together with the Länder funds, the total resources of the GAK amount to more than EUR 1 billion a year. Added to this is EAFRD funding in the order of nearly EUR 1.2 billion and funding by the Länder and municipalities.
The EU Commission's draft legislation on the second pillar of the support policy for the 2014-2020 programming period is based on the current 2007-2013 funding period and provides for extensions in some areas. In particular it aims for better coordination with other EU support instruments (e.g. regional and social funds) which will provide further important impetus for rural areas beyond what the second pillar can achieve. The foundations for better coordination and more effective alignment of support measures with the EU 2020 strategy objectives are laid down within the framework of national partnership agreements, in parallel with coordinated agreement on legislative proposals. It is then a Länder responsibility to determine the direction of the rural development programmes, taking their specific objectives into account.
For citizens, farmers and municipalities that wish to receive funding, the provisions of the Länder guidelines are ultimately applicable. These determine the conditions for claiming funding.
- As of:
- Understanding Farming - Facts and figures about German farming (PDF, 2 MB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)
- German Agriculture - Facts and Figures (PDF, 3 MB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)
- The German Federal Government Agriculture Report, 2011 (PDF, 3 MB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)
- Map Agriculture and Forestries in Germany (jpg, 409 KB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)
- Agricultural products in Germany at a glance (infographics)