Rural development has been recognised by the European Union as a significant sector of European economic development in the 21st century, as shown by the introduction of several Programmes to fund integrated actions for the development of rural areas. It has been commonly accepted that the development of rural areas is very often a difficult task, which needs to been encouraged and “animated” especially in the less developed or less accessible areas of Europe. Lip service has been paid to the role of “rural animator” in stimulating economic, social and cultural development by releasing the hidden potential of the individuals and organisations that operate in rural areas.

The European Academy of Sustainable Rural Development (Euracademy Association) gave a tangible expression to the rural animator’s role over the past 10 years by organising annual summer schools for “managers and animators of rural development” on different aspects of rural development; and by establishing in its publications the multi-disciplinary and multi-functional profile of this role as well as its significance, which justifies its transformation to a profession. The profession of rural animator, however, needs to be recognised through an appropriate qualification, vested with appropriate knowledge and skills: in EMRA, seven universities from across Europe and Euracademy Association join forces to achieve this.