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EDORA – European Development Opportunities in Rural Areas

The starting point of the EDORA project is the recognition that, rather than becoming more uniform in character, rural Europe is, in many ways, becoming increasingly diverse. This diversity implies both new challenges and changing opportunities. The overarching aim of the project is to examine the process of differentiation, in order to better understand how EU policy can enable rural areas to build upon their specific potentials to achieve "smart, sustainable and inclusive growth." As a first step it is very important that we have a clear picture of rural Europe and its various development potentials, at the beginning of the 21st century. The project emphasises the importance of looking beyond the "agrarian" for that potential, since in many rural areas secondary and tertiary activities already play a very important role the local economy.

The first phase of the project consisted of a literature review in order to establish a conceptual framework for subsequent empirical analysis, and as a basis for a policy rationale. Nine different fields of literature were presented in thematic papers. The literature review identified a very wide range of aspects of contemporary rural change. In order to manage this complexity, and so that it could be communicated simply and clearly, three "meta narratives" of rural change were devised. The first of these tied together a range of ways in which farming and other land based industries are evolving, the second showed how relationships between urban and rural areas and between remote and accessible areas are changing, and the third considered the many and various effects of globalisation.

In the second phase the evidence base for rural change was explored, both in terms of large scale patterns, based upon regional data, and local processes, based upon a case study approach. The macro-scale patterns were addressed by three typologies, based on indicators of Rurality/Accessibility, Economic Restructuring and Performance. Summary profiles of the rural regions within each of 30 countries of the "ESPON space", structured according to the three typologies, were also produced,. These were complemented at a micro-level by in-depth studies of 12 exemplar regions, reflecting a wide range of types and contexts.

In the third policy-oriented phase of the project future perspectives were developed which builds upon the "evidence base" of the intermediary phase. The final report of the EDORA project argues that in the modern, globalised European countryside, local or regional response will be effectively determined by a broad range of place-specific conditions, which might be collectively termed "territorial capital". These include traditional "hard" forms of capital, such as infrastructure and services and other forms of institutional support to enterprises, and soft/intangible assets, such as human and social capital, governance, and entrepreneurial culture. Some of these are very difficult to create or change through policy intervention, although there have been many successful experiments in these fields in recent years (not least through the LEADER programme), from which much may be learned. However, a more immediate pre-condition for effective policy is better information, comparable indicators and means of assessment to allow weaknesses to be identified.

The following documents can be found at the ESPON website:

  • Draft Final report
  • Revised Executive Summary Draft Final Report
  • Press Release-Interim Report
  • Interim Report
  • Inception Report
  • Project Specification

Additional documents from the EDORA project can be downloaded below:

EDORA FR Annex 1 Part 1 Scientific Papers Introduction Sept 2010
EDORA 2.11 WP 1-9 Thematic reviews
EDORA 2.12 WP10 Synthesis and Meta Narratives March 2010
EDORA 2.13 WP 11-22 Exemplar Region Reports
EDORA 2.21 WP23 Draft Database Description March 2010
EDORA 2.22 WP24 Typology Sept 2010
EDORA 2.23 WP25 Country Profiles April 2010
EDORA 2.26 WP26 Future Perspectives April 2010
EDORA 2.31 WP27 Territorial Cooperation Sept 2010

EDORA 2.32 WP28 Cohesion Policy Implications Sept 2010