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Proposals shall analyse the social and economic impacts of digitisation on agriculture and rural areas, looking into costs, benefits and possible trade-offs. Analyses shall distinguish the diversity of agricultural sub-sectors or farming systems and other activities in rural areas, including forest operations. They must cover a representative set of different rural contexts that exist across the EU, analysing the impact of the various policy settings. They shall fill knowledge gaps on the impacts of digitisation on agriculture and rural areas regarding at least: employment and quality of life, functioning of markets and value chains, competitiveness and scalable opportunities for agricultural and rural businesses and (re)deployment of public services. Beyond the impacts of past and ongoing developments, the action shall explore future scenarios for digitisation in the coming decades, characterising drivers and barriers which are likely to accelerate or hamper their respective development, as well as their respective impacts.

Proposals shall include activities to work in cluster with projects selected under RUR-01-2018. They shall fall under the concept of multi-actor approach[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction of this Work Programme part]], engaging representatives of farmers, rural businesses or citizens groups and digital technology providers. Early engagement of public authorities shall help guarantee the relevance of the analysis and the uptake of project outcomes.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

The deployment of information and communication technologies induces changes that impact individuals, societies and the environment in profound and pervasive ways. Agriculture and rural areas will be changing significantly with the multiplication of devices, their increased ""intelligence"", autonomous behaviour and connectivity. Aside from the benefits of digital innovations, there are also challenges, and sometimes threats, that need to be addressed to ensure that technological innovations go hand in hand with societal needs and expectations. To cope with the digital revolution research needs to clarify its dynamics and its net impact on socio-economic challenges that agriculture and rural areas are confronted now and in the future.

Anticipating and adjusting policy and strategies to take advantage of digitisation opportunities and mitigate associated risks. For agriculture and rural areas, the project will in the short term:

  • fill the socio-economic knowledge gaps on digitisation of agriculture and rural areas, including impacts on existing and future challenges;
  • develop the most plausible future scenarios for the development of digitisation;
  • raise awareness among key stakeholders about digital game changers, allowing for the development of appropriate coping strategies, in particular at policy level; and
  • improve the uptake of societal concerns in ICT-related policy and innovation, by liaising with on-going projects on the digitisation of agriculture and rural areas.

In the longer term, the project will contribute to EU agricultural and rural economies and communities becoming more inclusive and competitive, due to adapted strategies.

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