In about a year from now, 40% of the EU Member states can become new members of the union. They bring with them their own traditions, history and culture. They also bring with them their agriculture, environment and countryside. The EU will change, but the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has not changed in response to the fortcoming expansion. The negative effects of CAP will thus expand to new states when the EU expands. Within the present EU, actions to strengthen rural development have become a more important part of agricultural policy. In the present EU, the aims of rural development are to halt the depopulation in rural areas and to support agricultural development and diversification. EU policy will soon apply to up to ten new member states. These do not have the same needs, nor do they share the same rural problems. Nevertheless, they will be incorporated in the same rural policy.
This part of agricultural policy is very flexible and permissive as it gives the member states the opportunity to choose from a set of actions elaborated and partially financed by the EU. But do these actions include those that are most important to the new member states? Does this policy suit their needs – the new EU? This is the subject analysed in this SLI Report.
SLI has earlier studied whether a more decentralized agricultural policy would be more efficient, considering the differences within the EU have become so extensive (and even more so with the coming expansion). The answer to this is yes, it would be more efficient. It is no longer suitable with a common agricultural policy.
In this report, rural needs and problems in one of the new member states – Poland – are analysed. Also, the question is discussed whether the current EU policy of strengthening rural areas is suitable to the needs of the Polish countryside. Could this policy, created for completely different needs, without major adjustments, be part of a solution to the problems of the new member states? Is it flexible enough? The study comprises a case study of two regions in Poland.