The European Parliament welcomes the contribution of the Cohesion Policy towards speeding up digitalisation
On 8th March 2022, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that welcomes the measures deployed through the Cohesion Policy to boost innovation and ICT connectivity in regions.
The European Parliament’s resolution « Cohesion policy: promoting innovative and smart transformation and regional ICT connectivity » welcomes the measures that will be implemented over the period 2021-2027 to drive the digital transition and leave no region behind. The text stresses that these efforts are necessary to ensure territorial cohesion in all regions including those facing natural or geographical constraints, as required by Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Yet the effectiveness of digitalisation in mountain regions will depend on the successful implementation of the Cohesion Policy over the next 6 years. Therefore, the European Parliament is calling on national and regional authorities to use the funds channelled by the Cohesion Policy to bridge the rural-urban divide and in particular to use the European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund to further develop high-speed digital networks in rural areas. Furthermore, the deployment of technology will have to go hand in hand with the development of digital skills, which is why Parliament also recommends using the European Social Fund+ to set up education and training activities to increase digital skills in rural areas.
Another point highlighted by Members of the European Parliament is the relevance of the Smart Village concept to support digital and social innovation, encourage social inclusion and involve local communities in the digital transition. The European Parliament is therefore calling for the use of this concept at local level to help territories find innovative solutions to everyday challenges, such as access to public services.
Members of the European Parliament also stress the need to take into account regional specificities when developing digitalisation, recalling that a one-size-fits all approach cannot meet the needs of all territories, which particularly holds true for mountain areas where the roll-out of infrastructure is hampered by geographical constraints making investments more expensive.
Montana174 shares this opinion on the particular relevance of the Cohesion Policy to support innovation in mountain areas. In December 2021, Montana174 had already demonstrated in a good practices brochure how the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy had given particular support to digital and social innovation in mountain areas.
Montana174 has analysed different Operational Programmes for the period 2021-2027 and has found many examples of regions or Interreg programmes that will finance digitisation, Smart Villages, digital services or digital skills in the mountains. A factsheet will be available in April!
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