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The ‘territorial turn’ of rural policies and integration of policy regimes

Ann-Katrin Backlund
Lunds Universitet
Ann-Katrin Backlund
Lunds Universitet
Open Panel

Abstract

In the current European policy discourse there is a shift away from an agriculture-centred rural development which coincides with a place-based (region-based) approach to regional development in general. This ideological change could be described as a ‘territorial turn’ in regional and rural development. Although there is no agreement on what the territorial EU policy is, a ‘territorial agenda of diverse regions’ is advocated by the Commission together with the necessity to integrate and coordinate policy in the regions to achieve cohesion (DG Regional Policy, Sept 2010). By researching the current state of policy integration in ten rural regions in the EU and its relationship with the CAP and other policy regimes the RUFUS (Rural Future Networks) project has searched for a better understanding of the key dynamics of change in rural areas. The rational behind the studies was to identify, conceptualize and theorize drivers and dynamic processes which are the result of specific local preconditions and how the development potentials were helped or hindered by the EU policy and funding. A general conclusion is that the different endogenous potentials (social and territorial capital) of regions demand specific solutions. As rural regions vary from being dominated by agrarian to manufacturing or service production, and at the same time have very different institutional set up to handle a sector integrated planning, regional preconditions create different policy requirements. This is neither surprising nor a problem but has to be considered in the outline and evaluation of EU cohesion policy.