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Abstract

The analysis of the experiences of Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEs) in transition, which became EU members in the historical 2004 (and 2007) enlargement, evidences the importance of timing and targeting policy intervention for a balanced growth (Monasterolo et. al, 2008). In fact, even if the Countries, till the last financial and economic crisis, showed a clear path of convergence (EC, 2008; EC, 2009) with EU average levels of development thanks to a sustained growth in GDP, at the same time they had to face a notable increase in regional inequality (Brasili, 2005), mainly driven by the persisting backwardness of agricultural and rural areas. The European pre-accession funds had limited effect in preventing the spread in internal divergence because of the lack of ex ante and in itinere monitoring and evaluation (Monasterolo, 2008). Moreover, they failed in addressing specific problems and needs of so variegated areas due to the deficiencies in identifying and defining the characteristics of rural areas (Csáki, 2009). This paper will introduce a new map of Serbia, a current EU pre-accession Country, where a clear identification of rural areas is still lacking (Bogdanov, 2007). We identified the dynamic characteristics of urban and rural areas as well as their strengths and weaknesses, computing a principal components analysis on a group of 37 socio-economic, agricultural and structural variables, which are available periodically at a municipality level. Then, we delineated homogeneous regions through the cluster analysis. This disaggregated mapping at the local level represents the fundamental starting point for developing integrated and diversified rural policies, enriched by a bottom up approach, following a neo-endogenous vision (Hubbard, 2009).

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