The starting point of the EDORA project was the recognition that, rather than becoming more uniform in character, rural Europe is, in many ways, becoming increasingly diverse, implying new challenges and opportunities. The project’s overarching aim was to examine the process of differentiation, in order to better understand how EU policy can enable rural areas to build upon their specific potentials to achieve ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’. The first phase of the project consisted of a literature review in order to establish a conceptual framework for subsequent empirical analysis. This identified a very wide range of aspects of contemporary rural change. In order to manage this complexity, and so that it could be communicated simply and clearly, three ‘meta-narratives’ of rural change were devised. In the second phase the evidence base for rural change was explored, both in terms of large scale patterns, based upon regional data, and local processes. The macro-scale patterns were addressed by three typologies. These were complemented at a micro-level by in-depth studies of 12 exemplar regions, reflecting a wide range of types and contexts. The third phase explored policy implications. Clearly these propositions point towards neo-endogenous approaches, in which a ‘bottom up’ process of regional programme design is fully supported and guided by available information, expert advice, and the kind of strategic perspective which is best assembled at a central level. The EDORA findings are thus generally supportive of the ‘place based’ approaches advocated by the Barca Report.


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