Summary: The aim of this report is to analyse the current situation and future prospects of rural areas in the eight central and eastern European countries acceding to the European Union on 1 May 2004 u0096 Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia u0096 as well as in Romania and Bulgaria, which will likely become EU members in 2007. Rural development measures have become more important in recent years. As shown in the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy in June 2003, as well as in the conclusions of the Second European Conference on Rural Development, held in Salzburg in November 2003, this importance will grow further in the future. By improving the knowledge of rural areas in central and eastern Europe, the results of this analysis shall support policy makers who aim to reduce disparities between the levels of development of the various regions in the EU.
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