On the 11th of April 2017, the European Commission presented an ‘EU action for Smart Villages’, a document to launch reflections on villages of the future. It announces a series of initiatives within the EU rural development, regional development, research, transport, energy, and digital policies and funds. This Action Plan is a follow-up of the Cork Declaration of September 2016 in which one of the ten priorities is “investing in rural viability and vitality”.
Smart Villages is a relatively new concept within the EU policy making. According to this EU action, Smart Villages refer to “rural areas and communities which build on their existing strengths and assets as well as on developing new opportun
The EU Action Plan presents 16 planned actions that will be implemented by 2020 to promote smart villages. The plan is a mix of actions, conferences or calls for proposals already scheduled before the Cork Declaration and some new actions more directly targeting the implementation of Smart Villages.
Among the 16-actions presented, there are:
- Pilot project on Smart Eco-Social Villages: A pilot project initiated by the European Parliament that will explore characteristic of smart eco-social villages and identify best practices. A specific focus will be on connectivity and digital solutions.
- ‘Smart Rural Transport ‘Areas’ (SMARTA): An action project that focuses on sustainable shared mobility interconnected with public transport in rural areas. The project aims at giving an overview of good practices and at identifying the enabling conditions.
- Business models for modern rural economies – Horizon 2020: A call for proposals is launched for a research project that is expected to provide improved tools for entrepreneurship in rural areas, including a database of business cases and supportive environment. The project will help gaining knowledge on business models emerging in rural areas, addressing the potential for development, performance concerning economic, environmental and social issues as well as success factors or reasons for .
- Broadband Competence Offices (BCO) : The establishment of a network of Broadband Competence Offices (BCOs) is being set up in Member States at regional and/or national level to facilitate the spread of fast broadband. Their main task is to provide information and support on broadband roll-out to stakeholders.
- Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) : Several initiatives have been launched to shape the pan-European network of DIHs. For example, i4ms supports SMEs active in the manufacturing sector to improve their products and processes by letting them experiment with digital technologies.
Euromontana has stressed several times the digital divide happening in mountain areas and the absolute necessity to invest massively in terms of digital infrastructures, knowledge and skills in the most remote areas to maintain a good quality of life, to create new business possibilities, to keep basic services and to avoid depopulation. Thus, Euromontana welcomes this new EU action plan focusing on new business opportunities and encouraging a better digitalization of rural areas.21 April 2017