EU Support for Rural Development in the Republic of Macedonia
1 University of Tourism and Management, Skopje, REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
Abstract. According to the standard definition, more than 91% of the EU territory is "rural" and this area represents the home of more than 56% of the EU population. The special treatment of this area is due to the fact that rural development is a solid platform for economic diversification in rural communities, although the concern for the rural environment often triggers financial costs. The EU Lisbon strategy for growth and employment as well as the Gothenburg strategy for sustainable development are relevant strategies for the development of villages and towns in rural areas. Nevertheless, rural development policy is connected to a number of other policies established at EU level. The medium-term period 2007-2013 is focused on three "thematic axes": improving the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry, improving the environment, improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of rural economy. In order to ensure a balanced approach of the policy, member-states and regions are obliged to spread their rural development funding across all three of these thematic axes. Some of the funding must be supported by individual projects through the “Leader approach”. The national strategic goal of the Republic of Macedonia is oriented towards agriculture and rural development, also, towards increasing the competitiveness of the rural sector, achieving food quality and safety, achieving sustainable resource management, improving living conditions in rural areas, reform of regulatory and institutional framework. In support of the strategy, the EU provides financial assistance for Macedonia, in order to enhance the rural development and to establish a new framework for programming and delivery of financial assistance to this candidate country for EU membership.
K e y w o r d s: EU support, rural development, Republic of Macedonia