EU Common Agricultural Policy obstacle to French agricultureStaff writer ▼ | February 25, 2016
France is Europe's leading agricultural producer, though the country's advanced, service-oriented economy means that rural activities account for no more than 13.1% of total economic output.
France The agricultural sector has a lot of room to grow
One obstacle to the development of the rural economy is France's application of the EU Common Agricultural Policy, according to experts.
The policy comprises two pillars: income support and rural development. Hervé Guyomard, an economist with INRA, points out that France's application is insufficiently based on an integrated approach to rural development.
“There is an excessive focus on agricultural activities, when you compare how other countries like Germany, Austria, or the UK use the second pillar,” he says.
As such, France may be neglecting potentially beneficial initiatives, such as boosting innovation, promoting economic diversifi cation and improving the quality of life in rural areas.
An increasing challenge is seasonality, as rural employment shifts from agriculture to services, including leisure and tourism. When agricultural activity—by its nature seasonal—was a stronger component of rural economies, local inhabitants remained present in rural areas year-round and organised their lives according to the cycle of the seasons.
By contrast, the growth of seasonal activities such as leisure and tourism, with their sporadic labour needs, may mean that employers are reluctant to invest in training and that rural areas struggle to retain skills and experience.
The issue is complicated further, Guyomard says, by France's labour legislation.
A third issue is provision of services in remote areas of rural France to improve quality of life and attract young people. ■