OECD Rural Policy Reviews

1990-9284 (online)
1990-9276 (print)
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This series presents comprehensive reviews of rural policy in individual countries as well as analytical reports on various aspects of rural policy.
Also available in French
OECD Rural Policy Reviews: Spain 2009

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19 June 2009
9789264060074 (PDF) ;9789264060067(print)

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The radical transformation that Spanish rural areas have experienced in the past few decades suggest, as it has occurred in many OECD countries, a new approach to rural policy. Spain has recently undertaken a major reform of its rural policies, including the merger of the Ministry of Agriculture with the Ministry of the Environment and the recently approved Law on Sustainable Development of Rural Areas.  This new framework creates a multi-sectoral and place-based "rural policy of state", making Spain better equipped to address the challenges and opportunities of rural areas.

This report – undertaken at the same time as the reforms were being implemented – will interest both policy makers engaged in similar reform processes and others working on issues such the "political economy" of reforms, rural tourism, renewable energies, rural clusters, development of peri-urban areas and public service delivery in remote rural areas.

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  • Assessment and Recommendations

    Please note that this publication contains a French and Spanish version of the assessment and recommendations of the review at the end of the book.

    Veuillez noter que cette publication contient une version française de l’évaluation et des recommandations de la revue à la fin du livre.

    Sírvase notar que esta publicación contiene una versión en castellano de la evaluación y recomendaciones del estudio al final del libro.


    According to the OECD definition of rural areas at the municipal level, 92% of the Spanish territory is rural and it hosts 27% of the population. These figures are close to the "official" classification of rural areas, as defined by the recently published Law on Sustainable Development of Rural Areas (LDSMR), according to which, rural areas extend to 92.7% of the territory, although the figure for population reaches 42% (17 million people). At the regional level (TL3/NUTS3), Spain has 7 predominantly urban (PU) regions (provinces), 27 intermediate (IN) regions and 18 predominantly rural (PR). The prevalence of intermediate regions is noteworthy. The particular pattern of population settlement in Spain is characterised by a few large cities and a large number of medium and small cities, concentrated mostly in the coastal provinces. This gives Spain a low rank in comparison with other OECD countries in terms of the territory, population, and GDP of PR regions (45% of the territory, 13% of the population and 10% of the GDP).

  • Profile of Rural Spain
    This chapter provides a detailed profile of Spain’s rural areas analyses its main trends and discusses its challenges and opportunities. Section 1.1 sets the context by discussing what is "rural" Spain; Section 1.2 addresses the main trends in four different subsections: population and migration, social well-being and equity, economic structure and performance and lastly environment and sustainability. Finally, Section 1.3 concludes by highlighting the main policy challenges for a nascent multi-sectoral framework of rural policy in Spain. 
  • Rural Policy in Spain
    This chapter evaluates rural policy in Spain with focus on its institutional setting and governance framework. Section 2.1 provides a summary of the evolution of the approach to rural policy in Spain from the post civil war period to our days. Section 2.2 analyses the institutions, policies and budgets oriented to the development of rural areas, first discussing EU rural development programmes (Section 2.2.1) and then focusing on the LEADER programme (and its Spanish counterpart, PRODER), which is the core instrument of rural development policy in a narrow sense. Section 2.2.2 addresses the broad rural policy instruments derived from the new Law on Sustainable Development of Rural Areas at the time that this law starts to be applied, and draws conclusions on its implications for the future.
  • Towards a New Stage in Spain's Rural Policy
    This chapter focuses on four of the main policy challenges that rural areas face in Spain (based on the diagnostic of Chapter 1) and evaluates the extent to which these policy issues have been addressed by Spanish authorities at the national and regional level in the past, and in the present framework of the Law on Sustainable Development of Rural Areas. Section 3.1 deals with the demographic and social challenges, Section 3.2 focuses on the challenge of diversifying the rural economy and fostering the competitiveness of rural areas, Section 3.3 addresses the relationship between rural areas and urban areas, with particular attention to areas. Finally, Section 3.4 adresses the environmental role of rural areas, and the importance of building a sustainable rural economy.
  • Évaluation et recommandations

    Selon la définition des zones rurales au niveau municipal telle qu’elle est établie par l’OCDE, 92 % du territoire espagnol est rural et 27 % de la population y est localisée. Ces chiffres se rapprochent de la classification « officielle » des zones rurales, définie dans la récente Loi pour le développement durable du milieu rural (LDSMR), selon laquelle les zones rurales représentent 92.7 % du territoire, et une population de 42 % (17 millions de personnes). Au niveau régional (TL3/NUTS3), l’Espagne compte 7 régions (provinces) essentiellement urbaines (PU), 27 régions intermédiaires (IN) et 18 régions essentiellement rurales (PR). La prédominance des régions intermédiaires est notable. C’est l’illustration de la configuration particulière du peuplement en Espagne, caractérisée par quelques grandes villes et un nombre important de villes moyennes et petites, surtout concentrées dans les provinces côtières. Du fait de cette particularité, l’Espagne se situe derrière bon nombre de pays de l’OCDE en termes de territoire, de population et de PIB correspondant aux régions essentiellement rurales (45 % du territoire, 13 % de la population et 10 % du PIB).


     Según la definición de la OCDE de zonas rurales a nivel municipal, el 92 % del territorio español es rural y en él vive el 27 % de la población. Estas cifras se acercan a la clasificación «oficial» de zonas rurales, como se definen en la Ley para el Desarrollo Sostenible del Medio Rural (LDSMR), publicada recientemente, según la cual las zonas rurales abarcan el 92.7 % del territorio, si bien la cifra de población alcanza el 42 % (17 millones de personas). A nivel regional (TL3/NUTS3), España cuenta con 7 regiones (provincias) predominantemente urbanas (PU), 27 regiones intermedias (IN) y 18 predominantemente rurales (PR). Cabe destacar la prevalencia de regiones intermedias. El modelo particular de asentamiento de población en España se caracteriza por un pequeño número de grandes ciudades y un gran número de ciudades medianas y pequeñas, concentradas principalmente en las provincias costeras. Esta situación sitúa a España en un nivel bajo con respecto a otros países de la OCDE en términos de territorio, población y PIB de regiones PR (45 % del territorio, 13 % de la población y 10 % del PIB).

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