Legal and policy arrangements for access to land in Europe

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


New generations in rural areas face issues in having access to land. Within the EU funded (grant agreement 817642) Horizon 2020 research and innovation action RURALIZATION, possibilities for rural regeneration are studied. Within this context an inventory has been made of legal and policy arrangements in all EU member states (including UK) based on a questionnaire and contributions of about 45 national reporters being coordinated by several members of the RURALIZATION team.

The outcomes show that, although there are large differences in land rights, most specific legal and policy arrangements are geared towards the accommodation of modernization and scale enlargement, and that there are only a few policy initiatives that may promote access to land for new generations.

Land tenure systems within the EU are based on three different conceptualisations of lease, that is, first, the lease as business contract, second, the lease to acknowledge the specific agricultural context that is in need of specific arrangements to allow for a fair contract for both parties and, third, the lease contract as providing security of tenure to farmers and their successors. Policies have facilitated the allocation of extra land (by flexible first and second types of leases) to farms which have already security of tenure for their core landholdings in the last decades. This means that lands are not allocated to new generations of farmers, but to the consolidation of existing farms.

Although many countries have policies to protect farmlands, reporters indicate that these are not very effective. There are a few examples of the contrary, which will be discussed.

Land consolidation is an instrument that exists in 21 member states. In most member states the heyday of land consolidation has been in the past. Land consolidation is rarely used to allocate land to new farms.

There are a few other instruments, such as, pre-emption rights and compulsory purchase that may be of relevance.

The paper discusses the outcomes of the study and relates it to outcomes of other studies within RURALIZATION on bottum-up initatives and land market developments. The consequences for the planning of rural areas are discussed.
Period25 Feb 2021
Event titlePLPR 2021 Online sessions: Planning matters, law matters, and property rights matter
Event typeConference
LocationGermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • access to land
  • land policy