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Rural regions

Rural areas with their villages and traditional farming landscape are a striking feature of our homeland. This is where the majority of our small and medium-sized enterprises from trade, industry and services are located. This is also where our regionally diverse food is produced. The decentralised structure is one of Germany’s particular strengths. Our countryside also offers space for nature and leisure activities.

The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture promotes rural development, in order for rural regions – with their different economic and demographic challenges – to remain vibrant and attractive. To this end, we want to create a basis for competitive rural areas with interesting jobs and the necessary utilities and connections. We also want to use and strengthen the diverse voluntary commitment of the people living in these regions.

Rural development is one of the Federal Government’s priority tasks. The measures receive political backing from a task force made up of the Parliamentary State Secretaries from the Ministries involved, which is chaired by the BMEL. In the “Rural Areas” interministerial task force (IMAG), the Federal Ministries coordinate their activities for rural regions.

Federal Minister Klöckner is co-chair of the “Equal Living Conditions” Commission, where she calls for easily accessible utilities, from shops to country doctors’ offices, vibrant village centres and demand-driven mobility services, and, not least, a swift roll-out of universal broadband and mobile communications networks. The Commission’s results and the recommendations of the chairs were presented in the summer of 2019.

In order to make living and working in the countryside attractive, the BMEL, together with the federal states and the European Union, is promoting environmental and other services rendered by agriculture and a large number of village renewal projects, networking initiatives and competitions.

The Federal Government/Länder Joint Tasks are effective assistance instruments by the Federal Government to support the Länder financially in performing their duties. With the support from the Joint Task for the Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection (GAK), the agricultural structure, the competitiveness of agriculture and the rural areas has been well advanced through integrated rural development. The BMEL, together with the Länder, continuously develops the GAK further.

In the 19th legislative period, the following adaptations to current challenges in the area of integrated rural development were decided:

  • the introduction of a regional budget amounting to up to 200,000 euro. In this way, active and autonomous rural development in the municipalities can be supported more strongly through several small projects of up to 20,000 euro each.
  • the enhanced promotion of active citizenship
  • the support of multi-functional buildings and spaces for common use, such as “co-working spaces”
  • the improvement of broadband support

In addition to this, the “Rural development support” special framework plan was agreed on. In 2019, under the special framework plan, additional federal funds amounting to 150 million euro for measures within the area of integrated rural development were earmarked for the Länder; 200 million euro have been set aside to this end from 2020.

Aerial view of a rural area in Bavaria
© naturenow - stock.adobe.com

Overview of topics

Equiv­a­lent liv­ing con­di­tions

Germany is a diverse country. However, there are increasingly inequalities in living conditions between and within regions. The Commission on "Equivalent Living Conditions" has therefore drawn up proposals to make both rural and urban regions economically vibrant, demographically sound and attractive places to live in.

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Vol­un­tary work

Around 30 million citizens in Germany are involved in voluntary work. Especially in villages, this voluntary commitment is irreplaceable for making life attractive and jointly mastering diverse challenges. A lively club life and volunteer initiatives are important factors for villages, enhancing their attractiveness and helping prevent depopulation.

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Ru­ral de­vel­op­ment sup­port

One of the German Federal Government’s aims is to strengthen rural regions as independent areas to live and work in, and to make them sustainable, future-proof and attractive, taking into account their different potential for development. There are a number of funding instruments from the European Union, the German Federal Government and the Länder that are available for this purpose.

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Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in ru­ral ar­eas

A good digital infrastructure and the possibilities of digitisation are important to keep the living and working environment attractive, especially in rural areas.

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Vil­lage de­vel­op­ment

Villages can offer a high quality of life. Rural regions are living, working and cultural areas in a near-natural environment. An active village community that consciously develops the village for the here and now and for the future is indispensable.

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Mo­bil­i­ty

Mobility services are an essential element for ensuring that rural regions and their communities remain attractive for people and businesses. They ensure the accessibility of workplaces, local supply services, medical care, educational institutions and cultural activities.

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In­dus­try

In addition to demographic change, the structural change of the rural economy is also shaping life and work in the countryside. Fewer and fewer people work in agriculture and forestry. The majority of jobs in rural areas (around 70 percent) are now, as in urban areas, in the service sector.

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