The European Commission is expected to publish its Communication on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas in June 2021. With two months to go, where do we stand in the discussions on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas and what can we expect?
At the European Economic and Social Committee’s event “Towards a holistic strategy on sustainable rural & urban development” held online on March 8, 2021, the European Commission reaffirmed its desire to build a Vision that would unlock the potential of rural areas, supporting them in facing challenges such as ageing and the lack of public resources and services. Desa Srsen, member of the cabinet of Vice-President Šuica, also stressed the need to go beyond agriculture, beyond demography and more globally beyond all individual policies in order to build a transversal and ambitious Vision. Mrs Srsen also pointed out that the European Commission’s Communication would include an Action Plan, with concrete measures and monitoring indicators. She stressed that the Communication’s structure will build on the outcomes of the public consultation and would include a state of play of the challenges in rural Europe, a presentation of the different possible scenarios for rural areas and solutions through the Action Plan. This plan would focus on 4 main axes:
- Creating vibrant rural areas while also respecting cultural heritage: The Vision should provide rural areas with the tools to be dynamic and welcoming, they must be attractive places, including for young, migrant, and neo-rural people.
- Boosting economic prosperity and innovation: The Vision should support rural areas in the green transition and help rural businesses in adapting to this transition by encouraging investments and the development of skills.
- Ensuring smart and connected rural areas: The Communication should enhance connectivity in rural territories through transport and broadband development. Transport networks should better connect rural areas to major urban centres but also to other neighbouring rural areas.
- Enhancing resilience and sustainability: The Vision should promote the role of rural areas in delivering on the Green Deal’s objectives and in achieving a carbon neutral Europe by 2050. Rural areas must be supported in this transition, especially as they are vulnerable to the effects of climate change (forest fires, floods etc.)
Even if the Communication is not finalised yet, Euromontana is pleased to see that the Commission is planning to implement an Action Plan. Euromontana recalls the European Commission that only the implementation of a real Rural Agenda with concrete measures, a strong monitoring and a real rural proofing on all policies will give rural areas the necessary ambition for the future. Euromontana will also remain vigilant on how the diversity of rural areas will be taken into account in this Communication, and especially how mountains specificities will be addressed.18 March 2021