TASTE aims and objectives
Aims and objectives
The EU growth strategy for 2020 builds on the ambition to become “a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy”. This forms the fundamental priority for the overall EU policy with five main objectives including employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy. In addition, four targets of growth policy are identified, with respect to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth as well as economic governance. This objective relies on the identification, in a context of global competition, of comparative advantages of the regions and their consistent inclusion in global value chains and innovation processes, but also to prior sectors, allowing peculiar local development spirits. Smart development strategies are based on the exploitation of the related variety of EU areas and their ability to initiate new activities and/or technological fields.
The aim of the TASTE project is to produce new policy-relevant knowledge on conditions for and factors behind rural development, which can be used for upgrading rural development policy at local/regional, national and European levels.
TASTE project wishes to contribute to this ambition at the level of rural and peri-urban areas. The main goal is to produce new policy and stakeholders-relevant knowledge on conditions for and factors behind rural development, which can be used for upgrading rural development policy at local/regional, national and European levels. The notion of rural development, for a long time confused with agricultural development, has emerged in the social and political debates and progressively established itself in the OECD countries (OECD, 2006). Doubts about the green revolution development programmes leaded to more open reflections and questioned the paradigm of technological diffusion and its validity towards involvement of local populations and various types of activities (Neuchâtel group, 1999). But the renewed interest in rural development, triggered by international organizations and by local initiatives, is also related to the increasing diversity of populations and activities in these areas, to the environmental impact of development operations (deforestation, destruction of biodiversity...), to the increase of social and land use conflicts, and the increasing diversity of production modes in these areas.

We want to shed light on the possible role played by rural areas in the regional dynamics of Europe, with regards to the orientations assigned by the Horizon 2020 strategy and the smart development policies launched by EU. We plan to identify the main conditions for a Smart Rural Europe, given the regional dynamics, facts and figures, the profound changes in rural areas and the new regional and rural policies.

More precisely, we intend to provide clear answers about two major questions:
  • a) Is there a possible smart development for European rural areas?
  • b) Which type of smart development (agriculture, business/industry, peri-urbanisation, tourism/leisure…) can be privileged with regards to regional peculiarities?
In a nutshell: what is a smart future for rural areas in Europe? What is a smart governance of rural areas?

The project intends to identify issues and forms of smart development of rural and peri-urban areas, and their relationships with urban dynamics, given the diversity of local configurations. This goal will also require examining the contribution of public policy and governance patterns as a consistent and innovative means of intervention to support smart development of rural areas.

In order to reach this goal we will take into account recent investigations on this topic, and make references to the so-called new rural paradigm with its two meanings: the researches about this subject and the new policies devoted to this development. Two issues will be strongly investigated in this respect:
  • rural-urban relationship: this is a core question, at the heart of the processes of development. We will take the hypothesis of rural areas under the strong influence of cities and urban people, be there for land use or types of productions;
  • governance of rural areas and its role in their subsequent development processes : we will address the question of Territorial governance and multi-level governance in these regions using case studies illustrating the diversity of potential smart development issues for a future rural Europe.
TASTE is based on an analysis of the diversity of rural and peri-urban areas in five developed European countries. We will focus on a set of countries (Austria, France, Italy and Sweden) that allow for interesting and useful comparisons. On the one hand, they are all part of the old(er) member states with a relatively similar economic state and they are strongly developed. The situation in the new(er) members states is different and requires another approach. However, there are clear differences between our countries as well, and they include different types of rural areas: Sweden is a more remote country with large rural areas and forests. In Austria the mountains create totally different circumstances compared to the flat and densely populated other areas. Furthermore, France and Italy both have very large rural and large urban areas, with different types of dominant activities. This way, the four countries complement each other.
The objectives of the project are to address the following research topics within two research priorities identified in the call:
  • Socio-Economic Development
  • Land Use and Land Management
And relate them to the three cross-cutting issues:
  • Diversity
  • Rural Urban relationships
  • Governance
Main questions and challenges
We want to address the following questions:
1) What is the future of European rural areas given the increasing growth and influence of urban areas? Is there any future outside the old framework of agricultural development?

2) Are there smart issues for rural areas in Europe? Are the issues of business, tourism, nature, peri-urbanisation or even agriculture at stake?

3) Which issue in which zone? Regarding the diversity of rural areas, do we need to target specific issues related to peculiar places, in accordance with place based and smart development policies?

4) Does these new issues impact land use occupation? Competition between various land use occupations? Conflicts and tensions?

5) What system of territorial governance in order to manage this complexity? Tools for local stakeholders and policy- makers?
Europe is considered as being one of the most desirable and healthiest parts of the world according to various index measures of wealth, prosperity as well as migration and world-travel destinations. At the same time it belongs to the most urbanized world region, with an expected growth of the urban population in the future (from around 70% living in urban areas today to around 80% in 2020). This anticipated development can in several ways be a challenge for the European economy and asks the question of the future of rural areas. As a background for a research initiative we identify a number of challenges for the future development of European rural (and peri-urban) areas:
Main Hypotheses
The project is based on the following 8 working hypotheses (H1 & H2 are general hypotheses, whereas H3 to H8 are related to the job to be done in the project, and to the proposed WP)
H1: Rural areas are under an increasingly strong influence of cities and urban people, be there for land use figures or choices of types of productions.

H2. The evolution of rural-urban relations and the types of activities grounding development of rural areas should not suggest that a single model is now dominant.

H3: Competition for the use of natural resources including land is a major dimension of smart development strategies on rural areas.

H4: There exists a huge diversity of ways to consider agriculture in territorial projects. Its inclusion as a key issue is not necessarily related to its location and the type of production.

H5: Definition and implementation of strategies for rural sustainable development and smart growth requires an upgrading of usual sectoral policies for integrated approaches taking into account territorial specificities.

H6: Governance networks and territorial governance in rural areas can cope with the curent economic development institutions deficit.

H7: New knowledge dissemination and relations between researchers and local actors are key features of a smart development of rural and peri-urban areas.
TASTE is supported by the European Commission
and funding bodies in 4 countries
in the framework of FP7
European Commission FP7 Ruragri
Keywords Smart rural development - Land use and management - Innovative agriculture and business - Territorial governance
- Entrepreneurship - Rural Urban relationship

Scientific Coordinator : André TORRE (INRA) - torre@agroparistech.fr
Project Manager : Frederic WALLET (INRA) - wallet@agroparistech.fr