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Abstract

The long-term strategic objectives of the EU Rural Development Policy in the next (2014-2020) programming period are as follows: the competitiveness of agriculture, the sustainable management of natural resources and the balanced territorial development. In this strategy agriculture seems to remain one of the key element as solution for lagging rural areas. However parallel to the decreasing role of agriculture in employment, searching for the possibilities of local economic development (LED) for disadvantaged, peripherical rural settlements suffering from the lack of employment, basic services, infrastructure, and strong local communities is essential as well. Based on LED theories and our primary research in four villages of Nográd county in Hungary firstly the social functions of traditional agriculture based on local resources, the increasing importance of diversification and the labor-intensive products with high added-value have to be emphasized in the new rural policy. However, as main point, besides agriculture the expansion of local economy, strengthening of local communities, development of the infrastructure and the improvement of urban-rural connections are essential for lagging rural areas as well, especially in terms of employment, availability of basic services and allocation of local rural products to urban markets. So LED also means the development of the micro-regional centrums nearby the lagging rural settlements.

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