The basic function of agricultural areas is, according to the European Charter for Rural Areas, agriculture and preservation of the natural environment based on a well-functioning agricultural sector that operates in harmony with nature. The Council Regulation (EC) 1257/1999 on support for rural development from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee was adopted in 1999. The programmes that are currently binding in the territory of Poland were developed in accordance with the EU policy expressed in the abovementioned acts and other documents concerning development of rural areas. These included: the Rural Development Programme that focused on social and environmental aspects, as well as a part of the Sectoral Operational Programme devoted to the development of rural areas, as well as restructuring and modernisation of the food sector. Based on the priorities of the Council regulation, two strategic objectives have been set: 1) Improvement of competitiveness of the agriculture and food economy, 2) Sustainable development of rural areas. Implementation of these objectives requires the support of the Common Agricultural Policy. Polish European Union membership contributed to setting its objectives and increasing the ability to subsidise economic entities, as well as develop both the food and rural areas economy.