Agricultural Policy Plus
Agricultural Policy Plus is an online web portal which serves as a communication tool in the field of agriculture and rural development for the countries of South Eastern Europe.
The web portal was developed through the project on ” Streamlining of agriculture and rural development policies of SEE countries for EU accession” jontly implemented by the Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group in South Eastern Europe and the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations.
The Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group (SWG) in SEE
The “SWG” stands for Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group in South Eastern Europe and is an International Intergovernmental Organization, consisted of governmental institutions responsible for rural development in respective countries and territories. Its managing and coordinative body is the SWG Head Office/Secretariat, based in Skopje, Macedonia.
It was founded on the basis of a common wish to establish an organization for sustainable rural development in SEE. As an organization the SWG is a non-political body, acting in a spirit of friendship and good neighborliness and enhances mutual respect and confidence, dialogue and cooperation among the Member Institutions.
In general, the SWG is working to empower and promote sustainable principles on rural development, through networking and permanent cooperation between all stakeholders of rural development in SEE region.
It is intergovernmental organization responsible for initiation and preparation of regional development projects in SEE. It acts as independent agency for coordination and implementation of joint projects, as well as for carrying out project activities. Through them, the SWG serves as the facilitator in the process of strengthening regional institutions necessary to support long-term agricultural and rural development.
Moreover, the teamwork by our members reinforces their individual efforts to mainstream or incorporate regional rural development concerns into all of their policies and programs.
To increase horizontal collaboration among respective institutions- Ministries of Agriculture and international organizations for merging work directly towards Regional Rural South Eastern Europe in order to implement comprehensive policies and develop result-based initiatives.
In carrying out our mission, the SWG serves to:
- Assure close, open, active, constructive and permanent cooperation among the Members within the scope of their responsibilities to the ongoing integration processes in the EU
- Stimulate and organize initiatives and activities related to rural development on national, regional and global scale
- Direct support for conducting studies, assessments and research in rural development
- Assist in strategic planning and programming for rural development
- Take part in activities of transnational and global rural development cooperation structures
Our vision of Rural South Eastern Europe
Innovative, inclusive and sustainable agriculture and rural development strengthened by cohesive regional co-operation, and bolstered by suitable policies and programs for alleviating smoother approximation of member countries towards the European Union.
- Enhance the regional co-operation among the Ministries of Agriculture in South Eastern Europe
- Facilitating information sharing on rural issues and rural development topics
- Support member institutions in identifying mutual needs and interests
- Create opportunities to share experiences and know-how among the member institutions with various international organizations and institutions
- Provide new ideas and tools relevant to agricultural and rural development polices
Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations
Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO’s efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
FAO’s mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.
FAO’s activities comprise four main areas:
Putting information within reach. FAO serves as a knowledge network. We use the expertise of our staff – agronomists, foresters, fisheries and livestock specialists, nutritionists, social scientists, economists, statisticians and other professionals – to collect, analyse and disseminate data that aid development. A million times a month, someone visits the FAO Internet site to consult a technical document or read about our work with farmers. We also publish hundreds of newsletters, reports and books, distribute several magazines, create numerous CD-ROMS and host dozens of electronic fora.
Sharing policy expertise. FAO lends its years of experience to member countries in devising agricultural policy, supporting planning, drafting effective legislation and creating national strategies to achieve rural development and hunger alleviation goals.
Providing a meeting place for nations. On any given day, dozens of policy-makers and experts from around the globe convene at headquarters or in our field offices to forge agreements on major food and agriculture issues. As a neutral forum, FAO provides the setting where rich and poor nations can come together to build common understanding.
Bringing knowledge to the field. Our breadth of knowledge is put to the test in thousands of field projects throughout the world. FAO mobilizes and manages millions of dollars provided by industrialized countries, development banks and other sources to make sure the projects achieve their goals. FAO provides the technical know-how and in a few cases is a limited source of funds. In crisis situations, we work side-by-side with the World Food Programme and other humanitarian agencies to protect rural livelihoods and help people rebuild their lives.
Streamlining of agriculture and rural development policies of SEE countries for EU accession
One of the overriding political and economical challenges in the region is the EU integration process. At the Zagreb Summit in November 2000, leaders from the EU and the countries of the SEE confirmed their full commitment to the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP), led by the EU. Apart from Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro (candidate countries), all other SEE countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, including Kosovo* are considered potential candidate countries.
The level of EU approximation of the agriculture and rural development policy in the SEE countries is diverse and depends on the status of the countries in relation to the EU. Some countries already apply EU-like agriculture and rural development policies (Croatia and Macedonia) and the others have just been preparing for that. One of the advantages of this diverse situation in such regional project is that “leader countries” can share their valuable experience with “laggers”, which creates synergies and accelerates the EU integration process and the development of rural areas in the whole region.
The responsibility for implementation of rural development policy lies with the Ministries of Agriculture, of which the administrative capacity is limited and not well qualified and experienced regarding EU harmonization process. This adverse situation is even fostered by constant rapid changes of the ministries’ structure, resulting in frequent changes in human resources. In addition, national policy responses have not always followed by clear and well established strategies. Furthermore, in some countries there is no clear long-term agricultural and rural development strategy and policy-making has often been dictated by ad-hoc considerations and has lacked orientation towards the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
Parallel with that a wide range of analysis, reports and studies including policy recommendations have been elaborated for the region by national and international academic institutions, universities and development organizations. However, in most cases these documents and knowledge have not been taken into consideration in the course of policy formulation.
So there is a common problem in the region regardless their accession status: in one hand the lack of dialogue between policy makers and academics, and on the other hand the lack of a reliable and well systematized catalogue or database, which collects all the relevant materials in one place for access and ease of use for policy-makers. This situation generates a critical gap that hinders EU-integration, based on the fact that academics are not able to write digestible papers, while policy makers are not able to understand the academic language and identify the relevant materials for an informed policy making.
Despite this controversial situation, all governments of SEE countries are committed to align their agricultural policies with the CAP in order to improve competitiveness of their agricultural sectors. For that reason the project aims at addressing a closer coordination, and in the long run, a stable relationship between policy makers and academics, and between the SEE countries, which is essential for an effective administrative system and an accelerated accession process.