Property rights and rural areas

The ELO is founded on the belief that private property rights and a well-functioning land market are fundamental in delivering both sustainability and profitability in the European countryside.  

The ongoing CAP reform discussions have enhanced the debate on access to agricultural land. Unfortunately, many wish to support abstract notions of the small or family farm, without taking into account their context, economic viability or environmental impact. A focus on size foregoes a much more relevant debate about the impact of the operator.

ELO recognizes the specific nature of agricultural land, emphasizing however that acquisition of farmland or forestry must comply with ‘four fundamental freedoms’ (the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital) to ensure equal rights for all EU citizens throughout the European Union. Even if remaining a matter within the competency of each Member State, it is also governed by EU law, and as such has to follow it. Clear guidelines, such as those stated in the ‘Commission Interpretative Communication on the Acquisition of Farmland and European Union Law’ (published in October) are necessary to avoid other countries introducing farmland regulations in breach of EU laws.

Working daily on access to agricultural land and forestry, taxation, inheritance, land tenure contracts, and ownership and management of land, ELO believes that respect for property rights, as well as long-term vision and legal stability, are the only path to ensure a profitable agriculture sector and therefore a decent living for farmers, land managers and landowners. In 2017 we promoted those ideas on various occasion, with a special emphasis on the “Exchange of views on the access and use of farmland” in partnership with the President of the Intergroup "Biodiversity, Hunting and Countryside"; and with the European Commission (ELO General Assembly in Sofia).

ELO will continue to work on those topics, believing that it is fundamentally much more important to introduce positive incentives than to impose restrictions.


Contact Us

Friends of the Countryside ASBL

67, Rue de Trèves

B-1040 Brussels


Phone: +32 (0)

Fax: +32 (0)

About us

Friends of the Countryside represents the custodians of European estates and the traditional industries, patrimony, and heritage in their stewardship.



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