EMPLOYMENT STRATEGY : USE OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT FUNDS TO CLOSE JOBS GAP.

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Europe's rural areas must exploit their potential or risk falling further behind urban areas in meeting Lisbon employment targets, particularly in the remotest and most agricultural areas, according to a Commission communication published on 21 December and presented by Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. The Commission underlines that there are a broad range of instruments at European and national level that can be used to close the jobs divide between rural and urban areas. In particular, Rural Development measures should be fully exploited for employment and growth along with cohesion and employment policies.

The communication is accompanied by a detailed report on the employment situation in rural areas The report concludes that some rural areas, and in particular those which are most remote, depopulated or dependent on agriculture, face particular challenges as regards growth and jobs. These include: lower income, unfavourable...

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