European Network for Rural Development (ENRD)

European Network for Rural Development (ENRD)

Helen Williams
Other Organisations


The European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) was launched in 2008.

The ENRD’s objectives are:

  • increasing stakeholder involvement in the implementation of rural development policy;
  • improving the quality of rural development programmes;
  • informing the broader public on rural development policy;
  • supporting the evaluation of rural development programmes.

The ENRD is a platform for sharing experiences and increasing knowledge of its wide range of stakeholders. Any person can be a member of the ENRD, just by engaging with its work, there is no formal membership. The main stakeholders are national authorities, national rural networks, local action groups and agricultural/environmental/territorial organisations, evaluators, etc.

Activities take various forms, ranging from capacity building events to seminars and workshops, thematic groups and dissemination of project examples and best practice.

The ENRD for the current programming period (2014-2020) is set up by Art. 52 of Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013. It accompanies all stages of the policy cycle.

Participation Spectrum

When and Where

Start Year

Policy Context

Policy Stage
Context of activity
Specific Topic
The network touches on a diverse mix of policy fields which link or relate to EU Rural Development policy and/or development of rural areas in general. Recent work includes for example activities on smart villages, rural depopulation, biodiversity, community-led local development, bioeconomy, evaluation, etc.


Communities or representatives involved
This depends on the event. There are e.g. events specifically for LEADER local action groups, dealing with rural development on the ground. Or there are events specifically for RDP Managing Authorities, for evaluators or for national rural networks.
How were the Participants selected?
Through what means citizens knew about the call for participation?
The key communication tool for the ENRD is the website (, but events are also advertised on social media and invitations are sent out to specific groups of stakeholders.


Methodologies used
Methodology description
- Interactive workshops for 30 participants;
- Interactive workshops for 70 participants;
- Seminars of 150 participants;
- Conference of up to 450 participants;
- Thematic working groups where a similar group of participants meet up to 4 times a year on a specified topic;
- ENRD events above and other activities all involve participative approaches (e.g. world cafe, use of mentimeter/slido electronic tools, yammer etc.);
- Project visits linked to events;
- Facebook communities, twitter.


Main Outcomes and Lasting Achievement
Delivery of the ENRD objectives.
For more details see the outcomes of the 2017 self-assessment excercise of the EU Rural Networks:

How were the outcome taken up within the process they were carried out?
Delivery of the ENRD objectives.
For more details see the outcomes of the 2017 self-assessment excercise of the EU Rural Networks:

In broad terms, key messages/recommendations from ENRD events and activities are used as inputs for reflections on improving the legal framework and implementing arrangements for EU rural development policy. These inputs help to identify from the ground what works/where there is scope for improvement etc., and whether changes required are at EU or national/regional level.
Feedback provided
Other Feedback
Short reports are prepared after events and published on the website.
Were the methodologies used elsewhere?
While currently the ENRD stakeholder engagement model applies for EU rural develpment policy (Pillar II of CAP), the Commission proposals for post 2020 provide for establishment of a single CAP Network at EU level, so will extend this networking/stakeholder engagement model to both Pillars of the CAP.


Other challenges
Reason for such challenges and solutions
- EU rural development policy is under shared management, so the implementation of the solutions/improvements identified is often in first instance the responsibility of the Member States.
- On the language aspect, the majority of ENRD events are held in English only - for cost efficiency reasons and to make the dialogue more active. However, this does limit the active input from some participants / Member States. (Some ENRD publications are translated.)
- Use of external contractors to animate the ENRD permits a level of resourcing of activities of the network which would be impossible in-house; it also provides necessary skills (expert facilitation, evaluation know-how etc.).
Lessons Learn
- Importance of the right group of target stakeholders at events.
- Importance of providing sufficient space for participative activities/dialogue/local project examples, not just top-down presentations.
- Role of a network and skilled facilitation resources to establish a long-term engagement with stakeholders and build engagement. Provides space for a different type of dialogue than more formal engagement structures with the Commission (e.g. COM/MS dialogue).
- Communicate timely and clearly about the scope, objective and target of your activity.
- Engagement is not a one-off activity. Adequate planning of resources, time and communication activities is key to accompany stakeholders and get best results.
- Avoid too many similar/competing exercises & events in same period, to avoid that recipients feel bombarded or get ‘engagement fatigue’.