With the aim of designing a new, fully-fledged integrated rural development policy, the European Commissioner responsible for agriculture and rural development, Mr. Franz Fischler, has announced that the Commission will organize a major European Conference on Rural Development. It will take place in Cork, Ireland, on 7-9 November 1996. The purpose of the conference will be to discuss the future perspectives, objectives and content of a new rural development policy for the European Union. This policy will seek to address the challenges faced by rural areas in a way that considers all economic sectors and all aspects of rural life, and which builds on their strengths. The conference will be a key stage in developing the ideas for future EU policy as set out in the Commission's Agricultural Strategy Paper of November 1995. Invitations to the conference will be forwarded to the partners with whom the Commission intends to work closely in developing the future policy, including representatives of public authorities at national, regional and local level, EU institutions, non-governmental organizations active in rural development issues, LEADER groups, the Central and East European and Mediterranean countries, and other interested international bodies.