Both the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the European Union (EU) attach great importance to the preservation of rural areas as economically, ecologically and socially viable and attractive habitats and environments. Rural development means the sustainable improvement of living conditions in rural areas, it means strengthening villages, landscapes and regions, it means promoting environmental and nature protection and supporting agriculture and forestry.
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) constitutes the financial and conceptual basis of rural development policy in Europe. The federal states in Germany implement its aims and measures by means of respective programmes. The BMEL supports these measures, not least through the Federal Rural Development Scheme.
In view of the above and for years, the BLE, too, has been actively promoting rural development. By means of the National Rural Support Unit and the Competence Centre Rural Development the aims and objectives of rural development policy, at both national and EU levels, are implemented and further developed.
The National Rural Support Unit constitutes the hub for the partners that form the German EAFRD Rural Areas Network and it brings together actors who shape rural areas, it makes important issues relating to rural development comprehensible and it informs the various actors extensively. The National Rural Support Unit is also part of the European Network for Rural Areas.
The Competence Centre Rural Development implements the Federal Rural Development Scheme. This includes conducting model- and demonstration projects such as Land(auf)Schwung, the support of respective competitions, research management and knowledge transfer.
Tasks of both units complement each other and include, among others:
- project management towards the implementation of projects within the Federal Rural Development Scheme;
- the integration, promotion and support of competitions at national level;
- networking among the actors involved in rural development to inform, communicate, discuss and advise, i. a. to prepare cooperation projects;
- the creation of networking structures in Germany within the framework of European Innovation Partnerships (EIPAgri);
- Information and knowledge management.