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Key issues in the effective delivery of EU-funded rural development programmes include simplification, transparency and accessibility. This paper draws upon the experience of rural development programming, as presented in a number of case studies drawn from recent and ongoing research by the author and others, and discussed in the panel sessions at the Salzburg RD conference in 2003, to summarise outstanding needs in these areas. Central areas of concern include a lack of local flexibility and poor integration between top-level goals at the point of delivery, as well as a lack of trust and support for capacity building and innovation among local delivery agents, where synergies between economic, environmental and social aims can most readily be identified and pursued. The summary of needs is then used to critically analyse the Commission's new draft Regulation for Rural Development beyond 2007 and to identify key issues and actions that should guide ongoing developments between now and 2007, both within the Commission and Council and among the full range of national, regional and more local agencies and stakeholders in this process.


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