The European Union’s cohesion policy and its Structural Funds are key delivery mechanisms to achieve the priorities of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth but there is evidence that rural areas may be receiving an inadequate share of this funding. In the period 2014 to 2020, intermediate and predominantly rural NUTS2 regions in eastern European Member States (EU9) and those regions in southern European Member States (EU7) with high agricultural employment rates are likely to be the main recipients of around of 80% of cohesion funds. This paper contrasts the economic prosperity and employment situation in rural and urban NUTS2 regions of the EU and, in the context of the findings of the EU Framework 7 project ‘RuralJobs’, argues that rural development actors should look beyond CAP funding and adopt an integrated approach which better mobilises Structural Funds, and national and private sector funding, to promote rural employment creation and economic prosperity.


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