On November 19, 2020, the RUMRA & Smart Village intergroup, of which Euromontana is a supporting organisation, met with Vice-President Dubravka Šuica, European Commissioner for Democracy & Demography in order to feed the European Commission’s reflections for the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas.
Vice-President Dubravka Šuica welcomed the initiative to gather Members of the European Parliament from the intergroup and civil society organisations working on rural development, between which she believes many synergies exist. Ms. Šuica also stressed that the Commission’s Long-Term Vision would be a success if all rural actors are involved, as the the only way to break the silos and build a coherent strategy for rural areas. The Commissioner also welcomed the increased attractivity of rural regions in the COVID-19 context but recognised that many obstacles persist and hinder their development, including the lack of digital and transport infrastructures and insufficient (skilled) employment opportunities.
The Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas is expected to address these challenges by making rural areas the “hubs of future well-being” and by supporting them in being innovative, attractive, vibrant with clean and sustainable energy, ready for the digital and green transition and to welcome new comers. Pilot actions as well as tools should be put forward in the Commission’s Communication as solutions to be adapted to regional contexts and financed through the funds made available in the next Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027.
Addressing the concerns of MEPs regarding funding, representatives of the European Commission stressed the need to combine ERDF, EAFRD, ESF and Cohesion Funds to unlock the potential of rural areas, without forgetting other EU programmes such as Horizon Europe. Members of the European Parliament also insisted on the need to bring solutions to the challenges of employment and rural SMEs competitiveness as well as to depopulation and attractiveness among the youth. Other issues, such as the balance between rural development and environment protection, were also stressed by MEPs as challenges which the European Commission must address in its Vision.
Commissioner Šuica reaffirmed her wish for an ambitious and bottom-up Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas and invited rural stakeholders to express their views in the public consultation, which is open until November 30, 2020.
Euromontana welcomed this wish to turn the coming Communication on the Long Term Vision into a real toolbox for rural areas, with actionable tools, not only for farming but for tackling rural development in its wider approach to unlock the full potential of rural areas. It also welcomed the idea to introduce targets with milestones to reach and a process of monitoring.
Euromontana shared with the European Commission its Long-Term Vision for Mountains’ Rural Areas and invites you to use this document when answering to the consultation.24 November 2020