“All young people should have equal opportunities in the context of their personal and professional development, regardless of obstacles, including geographical challenges”, declares the Council in recent conclusions.
The document, published at the EU Official Journal in June, after the meeting of EU youth Ministers on May 29, 2020, takes stock of the current difficulties faced by the rural youth. While 49,2 % of young people age 15–24 living in rural areas in 2018, equal opportunities are still lacking in terms of educational and professional offers but also in terms of personal development, role in rural communities and leisure activities.
Although non-binding, the Council’s conclusions include recommendations to create more opportunities for young people in rural and remote areas. The Council for instance invites Member States to:
- Implement strategies to increase opportunities for young people in rural and remote areas, (including the youth not in employment, education or training) by building on the existing good practices and by organising consultation with youth.
- Increase the visibility of potential jobs in rural areas in the social and solidarity economy sector, including in the agricultural and environmental sector. Climate change related issues being of high importance of the European youth, the Council also invites Member States to create more opportunities in key sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism in rural and remote areas.
- Develop inclusive governance models, by creating local youth councils and better engaging the rural youth in public decisions.
- Improve mobility and ICT infrastructures in rural and remote areas to better link urban and rural areas and create more educational and professional opportunities in rural territories.
- Create dedicated space for young people in rural areas, such as youth work services and leisure spaces
The Council also recommends to the European Commission to create more synergies between existing programmes and policies, for instance between Erasmus+, rural development and social cohesion (including ESF), and specifically address the difficulties faced by the rural youth in the forthcoming Long-term vision for rural areas, the European Climate Pact and the new Action Plan for Digital Education.
Euromontana has already collected many existing initiatives which can inspire national, regional and local policy makers in implementing new strategies and tools to better address the needs of the rural youth.
- Governance: the Interreg Alpine Space project GaYA created a toolbox targeting policymakers; it provides the main steps to build more inclusive environments and the key elements for attractive rural mountain areas for the youth.
- Youth space: the JugendMobil a mobile, fully-equipped youth centre that is parked for a defined period of time in a village which has no specific youth facility and offers young people the opportunity to come together, play games, and get involved in creative activities. Created in Chur, in the Grisons Canton, Switzerland, it is an inspiring example for other mountain stakeholders.
- Employment: the ”forestry and biodiversity” training developed in the Province of Burgos in 2017 helped young men and women to get adequate skills to be employed in an expanding sector. For those at university, the Desafio programme in the region of Zaragoza offer to students the possibility to make an internship in the rural mountain villages of the Province, to boost their attractiveness and showcase the opportunities offered by rural villages.
Euromontana welcomes these conclusions and calls for a major effort to meet the needs of rural youth and create opportunities for their academic, professional and personal life in mountain areas. Ambitious actions will be essential to improve the attractiveness of our territories and combat rural depopulation.
Euromontana encourages Member States to build integrated territorial strategies addressing the issue of attractivity and the needs of rural youth and to answer these challenges in their rural development, employment and education policies for instance. Moreover, we call upon the European Commission to further propose innovative solutions to create more opportunities for the rural youth in the EU long-term vision for rural areas (for more information, see “Towards a long-term vision of rural areas – Contributions of Euromontana”).1 July 2020