SWG Members Institutions


Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Protection, Albania Ministry of Agriculture,
Forestry and Water Management, Montenegro
Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, B&H Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Romania
Federal Ministry of Agriculture,Water Management and Forestry, B&H Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Srbija
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Republic of Srpska Provincial Secretariat of Agriculture, Water Economy and Forestry, AP Vojvodina
Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Bulgaria Ministry of Agriculture,Forestry and Rural Development, Kosovo (UNSCR1244)
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, Croatia Ministry Of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Slovenia
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry
and Water Management, Macedonia

Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group (SWG) of South Eastern Europe

Rural areas and Agriculture in Southeastern Europe: Transition and the Search for Sustainability

Rural areas play significant role in the overall development of national economies. Access to new markets and rapid changes affect the agricultural sector in many South Eastern European countries, resulting in demand for flexibility and continuous innovation. Up-to-date knowledge, entrepreneurship, openness to new ideas and willingness to collaborate among each other are qualities needed today as never before.

The EU membership – both of the candidate countries, and later for the potential candidate countries of southeastern Europe – is likely to be crucial in market and product development for rural areas and agriculture. Development of rural areas in accordance with the EU-guidelines and polices is a major challenge due to the impact caused by the long transitional period. As the agriculture and rural development strategies and legislations have been developed in some countries, in others it is still an on-going and agonizing process.

The SWG focuses on the current issues surrounding the role and development of rural areas in southeastern Europe (SEE), and the influence of local and global factors of development and change, particularly within the context of aspirations towards sustainability.

We work together with respective institutions/ Governments and diverse partners in rural areas to advance and strengthen sustainable rural development, constructing a firmer entry into the EU membership for the countries in the region.

Our Organization

The “SWG” stands for Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group in South Eastern Europe and is an International Intergovernmental Organization, consisted of governmental institutions responsible for rural development in respective countries and territories. Its managing and coordinative body is the SWG Head Office/Secretariat, based in Skopje, Macedonia.

The SWG, as a platform for networking and regional co- operation, has been established during the Agricultural Policy Forum 2005 (“Rural Development Opportunities for Co-operation in the SEE”) held in Macedonia and Serbia in June 2005. The SWG is acting as per the conclusions of the Leipzig Agricultural Policy Forum and the adopted Agenda 2004.

It was founded on the basis of a common wish to establish an organization for sustainable rural development in SEE. As an organization the SWG is a non-political body, acting in a spirit of friendship and good neighborliness and enhances mutual respect and confidence, dialogue and cooperation among the Member Institutions.


Our Work

In general, the SWG is working to empower and promote sustainable principles on rural development, through networking and permanent cooperation between all stakeholders of rural development in SEE region.

It is intergovernmental organization responsible for initiation and preparation of regional development projects in SEE. It acts as independent agency for coordination and implementation of joint projects, as well as for carrying out project activities. Through them, the SWG serves as the facilitator in the process of strengthening regional institutions necessary to support long-term agricultural and rural development.

Moreover, the teamwork by our members reinforces their individual efforts to mainstream or incorporate regional rural development concerns into all of their policies and programs.

Our Experience and Competence

SWG is an intergovernmental organization, operating on national and regional level, responsible for initiation and preparation of regional development projects in South Eastern Europe. It acts as independent regional agency for promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development in SEE region.

The SWG serves as the facilitator in the process of strengthening regional institutions necessary to support long-term agricultural and rural development policies. We support our Member Governments, academic institutions, associations and organizations in reinforcing capacity building and networking in SEE. We work together in order to increase the understanding and awareness about available information and tools, and indentify the gaps and discrepancies within the context of regional alliance.

Our Mission

To increase horizontal collaboration among respective institutions- Ministries of Agriculture and international organizations for merging work directly towards Regional Rural South Eastern Europe in order to implement comprehensive policies and develop result-based initiatives.

In carrying out our mission, the SWG serves to:

Assure close, open, active, constructive and permanent cooperation among the Members within the scope of their responsibilities to the ongoing integration processes in the EU

Stimulate and organize initiatives and activities related to rural development on national, regional and global scale

Direct support for conducting studies, assessments and research in rural development

Assist in strategic planning and programming for rural development

Take part in activities of transnational and global rural development cooperation structures

Our vision of Rural South Eastern Europe

Innovative, inclusive and sustainable agriculture and rural development strengthened by cohesive regional co-operation, and bolstered by suitable policies and programs for alleviating smoother approximation of member countries towards the European Union.

Our Objectives

Enhance the regional co-operation among the Ministries of Agriculture in South Eastern Europe

Facilitating information sharing on rural issues and rural development topics

Support member institutions in identifying mutual needs and interests

Create opportunities to share experiences and know-how among the member institutions with various international organizations and institutions

Provide new ideas and tools relevant to agricultural and rural development polices

Share and generate initiatives to further the rural agenda

SWG Areas of Co-operation: Broadening the Definition of Agriculture

The SWG strives to capture the richness not only of agriculture, but also of the many other sectors and areas which share common themes and can be merged together. The SWG executes its activities in the following areas:

  • Rural Development
  • Trade and Economic Development
  • Agriculture and Agro-industry
  • Environmental Protection and Sustainability
  • Protection and promotion of cultural heritage
  • Tourism and Rural Tourism
  • Contributing to Human Health and Education
  • Exchange of Statistical Data
  • Promoting Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women in Rural Areas

Reinforcing Capacities and Building Knowledge

The SWG supports its Member institutions, academic institutions, associations and organization in working together to increase their understanding and awareness about available information and tools, and indentifying gaps and in discrepancies.

The objective is to engage stakeholders to work on collaborative activities (seminars, workshops and trainings) for enhancing development capacity. Such events promote exchange of experiences, increase collaborative engagement and strengthen knowledge or skill development among the involved parties in the regional development process.

The capacity building activities will increase the competences of the participants to actively design and coordinate the development of rural areas and agriculture.