Rising energy prices for fossil fuels, the unreliable supply of energy imports during the last winters and – concerning the 12 new members states (NMS) – the demand by the European Union (EU) for developing National Renewable Energy Action Plans have stimulated the national discussion and political action on renewable energy (RE) among all European countries. Particularly among the 12 NMS the share of RE has increased during the last years. Among the candidate and potential candidate countries (CC and PCC) the discussion on RE has just started. When looking at the impact of RE on agricultural and rural development the effects are relatively small. An expansion of rape seed cultivation and, to a smaller extent, of the production of wood pellets could be observed. But overall the impact of RE on agricultural and rural income and employment seems to be marginal up to now. Whether it will be so in the future, depends on national policies and support programme as none of the various types of RE is competitive to fossil fuels for the time being.