(Fwd) Cork Conference Declaration

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Date:          Tue, 28 Jan 1997 10:17:24 EST
Reply-to:      Rural Sociology Discussion List <RURSOC-L@LSV.UKY.EDU>
From:          Coughenour <SOC007@UKCC.UKY.EDU>
Subject:       Cork Conference Declaration
To:            Multiple recipients of list RURSOC-L <RURSOC-L@LSV.UKY.EDU>

The "Cork Declaration-A Living Countryside" provides an interesting and signif-
icant ideas of interest to many RURSOC-L subscribers. Milt Coughenour, Moderato
r---------------------------Original message----------------------------

Rural Europe Forum

                       Send a message to the European Commission

The European Conference on Rural Development,

Having met  at Cork, Ireland from 7th to 9th November, 1996


that rural areas - which are the home of a quarter of the population and
account for more than 80% of the territory of the European Union - are
characterised by a unique cultural, economic and social fabric, an
extraordinary patchwork of activities, and a great variety of landscapes
(forests and farmland, unspoiled natural sites, villages and small towns,
regional centres, small industries);


that rural areas and their inhabitants are a real asset to the European
Union, and have the capacity to be competitive;


that by far the largest part of rural Europe is covered by agricultural
land and forests, which have a strong influence on the character of
European landscapes, and that agriculture is and must remain a major
interface between people and the environment, and that farmers have a duty
as stewards of many of the natural resources of the countryside;


that agriculture and forestry are no longer predominant in Europe's
economies; that their relative economic weight continues to decline, and
that, consequently, rural development must address all socio-economic
sectors in the countryside;


that European citizens pay growing attention to the quality of life in
general, and to questions of quality, health, safety, personal development
and leisure in particular, and that rural areas are in a unique position
to respond to these interests, and offer grounds for a genuine, modern
development model of quality;

that the Common Agricultural Policy will have to adapt to new realities
and challenges in terms of consumer demand and preferences, international
trade developments, and the EU's next enlargement; that the shift from
price support to direct support will continue; that the CAP and the
agricultural sector will have to adjust accordingly, and that farmers must
be helped in the adjustment process, and be given clear indicators for the


that the justification for the compensatory payments of the 1992 CAP
reforms will be increasingly challenged;


that the concept of public financial support for rural development,
harmonised with the appropriate management of natural resources and the
maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity and cultural landscapes, is
increasingly gaining acceptance;


that, while successive reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy and
European rural development policies have improved transparency and
effectiveness, a number of inconsistencies and overlaps have developed and
legal complexity has grown;


to promote, in all possible ways, local capacity building for sustainable
development in rural areas, and, in particular, private and
community-based initiatives which are well-integrated into global markets;


the following ten point rural development programme for the European

Point 1 - Rural Preference

     Sustainable rural development must be put at the top of the agenda of
the European Union,
     and become the fundamental principle which underpins all rural policy
in the immediate future
     and after enlargement. This aims at reversing rural out-migration,
combating poverty,
     stimulating employment and equality of opportunity, and responding to
growing requests for
     more quality, health, safety, personal development and leisure, and
improving rural well-being.
     The need to preserve and improve the quality of the rural environment
must be integrated into
     all Community policies that relate to rural development. There must
be a fairer balance of
     public spending, infrastructure investments and educational, health
and communications
     services between rural and urban areas. A growing share of available
resources should be
     used for promoting rural development and securing environmental

Point 2 - Integrated Approach

     Rural development policy must be multi-disciplinary in concept, and
multi-sectoral in
     application, with a clear territorial dimension. It must apply to all
rural areas in the Union,
     respecting the concentration principle through the differentiation of
co-financing for those
     areas which are more in need. It must be based on an integrated
approach, encompassing
     within the same legal and policy framework: agricultural adjustment
and development,
     economic diversification - notably small and medium scale industries
and rural services - the
     management of natural resources, the enhancement of environmental
functions, and the
     promotion of culture, tourism and recreation.

Point 3 - Diversification

     Support for diversification of economic and social activity must
focus on providing the
     framework for self-sustaining private and community-based
initiatives: investment, technical
     assistance, business services, adequate infrastructure, education,
training, integrating advances
     in information technology, strengthening the role of small towns as
integral parts of rural areas
     and key development factors, and promoting the development of viable
rural communities and
     renewal of villages.

Point 4 - Sustainability

     Policies should promote rural development which sustains the quality
and amenity of Europe's
     rural landscapes (natural resources, biodiversity and cultural
identity), so that their use by
     today's generation does not prejudice the options for future
generations. In our local actions,
     we must be aware of our global responsibilities.

Point 5 - Subsidiarity

     Given the diversity of the Union's rural areas, rural development
policy must follow the
     principle of subsidiarity. It must be as decentralised as possible
and based on partnership and
     co-operation between all levels concerned (local, regional, national
and European). The
     emphasis must be on participation and a 'bottom up' approach, which
harnesses the creativity
     and solidarity of rural communities. Rural development must be local
and community-driven
     within a coherent European framework.

Point 6 - Simplification

     Rural development policy, notably in its agricultural component,
needs to undergo radical
     simplification in legislation. Whilst there should be no
renationalisation of the CAP, there must
     be greater coherence of what is presently done through many separate
channels, a limitation
     of EU law on general rules and procedures, more subsidiarity in
decisions, decentralisation of
     policy implementation and more flexibility overall.

Point 7 - Programming

     The application of rural development programmes must be based on
coherent and transparent
     procedures, and integrated into one single programme for rural
development for each region,
     and a single mechanism for sustainable and rural development.

Point 8 - Finance

     The use of local financial resources must be encouraged to promote
local rural development
     projects. More encouragement must be given to using financial
engineering in rural credit
     techniques in order to mobilise better the synergies between public
and private funding,
     reduce financial constraints on small and medium size enterprises,
promote productive
     investment, and diversify rural economies. Greater participation by
the banking sector (public
     and private) and other fiscal intermediaries must be encouraged.

Point 9 - Management

     The administrative capacity and effectiveness of regional and local
governments and
     community-based groups must be enhanced, where necessary, through the
provision of
     technical assistance, training, better communications, partnership
and the sharing of research,
     information and exchange of experience through networking between
regions and between
     rural communities throughout Europe.

Point 10 - Evaluation and Research

     Monitoring, evaluation and beneficiary assessment will need to be
reinforced in order to
     ensure transparency of procedures, guarantee the good use of public
money, stimulate
     research and innovation, and enable an informed public debate.
Stakeholders must not only
     be consulted in the design and implementation, but involved in
monitoring and evaluation.


We, the participants at the European Conference on Rural Development
assembled in Cork, urge Europe's policy-makers:

    to raise public awareness about the importance of making a new start
in rural development policy;

    to make rural areas more attractive to people to live and work in, and
become centres of a more meaningful life for a growing diversity of people
of all ages;

    to support this ten-point programme and co-operate as partners in the
fulfilment of each and every one of the goals, which are embodied in this

    to play an active role in promoting sustainable rural development in
an international context.

9th November 1996

                              End of page. Stay tuned!
Rick Welsh
SARE Program, Southern Region
University of Georgia
1109 Experiment St.
Griffin, GA 30223-1797
phone: 770-412-4788
fax: 770-412-4789
e-mail: rwelsh@gaes.griffin.peachnet.edu