Mountainous areas of the European Union

Author (Corporate)
Publication Date 2005
ISBN 92-79-00448-4
EC KF-62-04-591-EN-C
Content Type

Mountain areas are important, in Europe as elsewhere, for many reasons. Though thinly populated, mountainous municipalities are home to 75.9 million people, i.e. 20.3% of the population. They are also valuable habitats and landscapes and make a special contribution to the environment by, for example, sustaining biodiversity and providing water. The importance of mountainous regions was officially recognised on a global level at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (known as the ‘Earth Summit’) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Agriculture plays a vital role in Europe’s mountainous areas. Agriculture and its related activities are key components of the rural economy and the EU has developed specific measures which are particularly relevant to mountain agriculture. A number of EU policies address the problems of farming in mountainous areas, notably the common agricultural policy (CAP), regional policy and structural policy. EU rural development measures have been targeted at assisting mountain regions since 1975 and have been recently strengthened – these remain the most important means to help sustain farming in mountain areas. There is no stand-alone EU mountain agriculture policy.

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