European rural areas are undergoing major changes, including the impacts of migration, changes in settlement patterns, demographic ageing, changes in the nature of rural-urban interactions, a decreasing role of agriculture in terms of income and employment, and changes in governance systems. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the main expenditure chapter of the EU and is directly affecting the economy of rural areas. Assessing the impact of the CAP will help in re-addressing the CAP in the wider framework of EU policy objectives. The objective of the project CAP-IRE is to develop concepts and tools to support future CAP design, based on an improved understanding of long term socio-economic mechanisms of change in rural areas. Concepts and tools will be developed, shaped by state of art literature and a wide empirical testing. Coverage includes case study regions in 9 countries of the EU. The focus will be farm households as the reference agents in the connection between policy and socio-economic change, as well as between agriculture and other sectors of the economy. Account of the wider non-EU and non-rural scenarios will be taken. The first step of the project will be to devise concepts and tools able to fill the gaps in present knowledge on development in rural areas. In the second step, these concepts and tools will be applied in an empirical analysis of mechanisms of change in selected case study areas. In a third step, tools will be used to assess the impact of CAP in the selected areas. Expected results concern: an improved conceptual view of CAP relationships in the context of changing rural areas and a framework to assess reciprocal impacts between CAP and other drivers of change in a long term perspective; models and tools to assess changes in rural areas, with particular attention to the connection between CAP and other drivers; an assessment of present dynamics of change, including impacts of CAP in the selected case study areas.
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