The paper looks at the prevalent approach to agricultural and rural development in the European Union, describing its origin, essence and the rationale behind it. The analysis makes use of descriptive and comparative methods. The author notes that the policy of sustainable development is currently the common approach to development processes in agriculture and rural areas in both the European Union and elsewhere. This approach is a response to some negative trends provoked by previous policies. As the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) changes, it is becoming increasingly oriented toward sustainable development. According to the authoress, an optimal approach to the development of Poland's rural areas, under the current socio-economic and environmental conditions, is proposed by a French model calling for the development of what is known as multifunctional agriculture. The model involves a combination of exogenous and endogenous factors adapted to the type of farming system.
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