Rural communities are living and working environments that provide livelihoods and which can make a significant contribution to the economy of the country, as a whole. However, many are disadvantaged simply because of their remoteness from the main population centres. Their viability is being threatened by the demise of essential local services, healthcare provision and recreational amenities. Where agriculture activity is dominant in the local economy, average wage levels can be relatively low and employment may be seasonal. Out-migration of younger people is leaving behind an imbalance in the population structure.
The measure aims to capitalise on some of the country’s strengths in the rural areas; namely the existence of high value natural and man-made landscapes and the resourcefulness of its rural communities. They can provide a springboard for economic regeneration and a solid foundation for maximising the potential of the areas’ cultural and social way of life, and for the better integration of rural areas in the national economy. The measure aims to harness, enhance and nurture the wealth of community skills, knowledge and ideas available in every rural community through the development of projects and strategies that address local needs. These will focus on creating a sustainable future for rural communities by encouraging diversification of the economic base, reducing the impact of peripherality on the local economy, improving access to basic services, developing higher value tourist activities while encouraging a positive approach to the environment.
For the purpose of implementation of the measure concerning the development of the rural economic activities two types of support schemes are envisaged:
3021 Support to micro enterprises in the rural areas which covers on-farm diversification of agriculture activities through investments in processing units for traditional niche products and support to craftsmanship;
3022 Support to rural tourism activities which encompasses group of investments for on-farm tourism on targeted territory particularly linked to the wine tourism and on-farm tourism investments in the villages, which are advantaged to be near Natural Protected Zones, Cultural/Archaeological sites and are listed as settlements in municipalities with rural centers, hilly and mountainous, border, economically under-developed areas and specific regions.