“Rural areas have a future. The mutual cooperation between town and country provides great opportunities for making the Lisbon and Gothenburg strategies a success: Sustainable growth and
employment need both: vital metropolises and vital rural areas. The common agricultural policy makes an excellent contribution to growth and employment in rural regions. To this end, it can
still be better targeted at rural areas as a whole in the future,” Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of Agriculture, thus summarised the discussion of the EU Agriculture Ministers at their
Informal Meeting in Mainz under the German EU Council Presidency.
Federal Minister Seehofer had invited the EU Agriculture Ministers to discuss the orientation of the common agricultural policy after 2013 taking the topic “Protecting the basis of life in the
regions of Europe – for diversity, quality and innovation” as a basis. It became evident at the meeting that “the 2003 agricultural reform had made rural development support a basic
element of the common agricultural policy”, one participant said. The agricultural reform also, at the same time, grants farmers new scope of action to produce with an eye to market. Food
safety, environmental and animal protection are tied up with agricultural support. This orientation makes the common agricultural policy viable for the future. It should be developed further to
a comprehensive policy for rural areas. The Ministers agreed: “Agriculture, the food industry and forestry can act as driving forces for the development in rural areas,” Seehofer added.
The agri-food industry as well as forestry and the forest industries offer manifold opportunities. The globally rising demand for food, also for regional and organic foodstuffs, the increasing
demand for renewable resources, but also the use of new income-earning opportunities in tourism, in the preservation of the countryside and other services constitute such opportunities. There
are highly interesting and qualified jobs in these economic sectors. This has also been impressively underlined by the presentation of German and European rural youth organisations that opened
the discussion: “Young people have prospects for living and working in rural areas.” The common agricultural policy is one instrument to provide effective support to them in the process.