The initial Scenar 2020 study carried out in 2006 identified and analysed a number of long-term trends concerning the demographic developments in rural regions, the dynamics of rural areas and the future of the agricultural economy including the environmental dimensionfor the EU, in its planned and potential future geographical shape until 2020. Two years later the exercise has been repeated. In this period the policy environment concerning the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the bilateral and global discussions concerning trade of agricultural commodities, and Community objectives for the natural environment (including the mitigation of climate change) have evolved considerably. A milestone has been the Health Check in 2008, designed to review and adjust the impact of the reforms enacted by the mid-term review of the CAP in 2003, notably the implementation of the new rules concerning agricultural payments in Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the CAP. As from 2005, the decoupling of financial support in Pillar 1 from the production of agricultural commodities has been accompanied by the introduction of a cross compliance mechanism which leads to reduction of direct payments if legal standards on environment, food safety, and animal welfare and good agricultural and environmental conditions of agricultural lands are not respected. Above this baseline, targeted payments of rural development cover a range of measures from the competitiveness of the sector to the sustainable use of natural resources and of agricultural production, and ultimately to the continued vitality of rural communities.