The European Network for Rural Development published new briefings on Smart Villages earlier this month, offering guidance to national, regional and local policymakers on the implementation of the concept.
Smart Villages has been a topic of growing importance ) since 2017 when the European Commission, together with the European Parliament, published a document called “EU Action for Smart Villages”. Supported by DG Agri, DG Regio and DG Mobility and Transport, the Action Plan aimed at making opportunities for villages and rural communities more visible. The document also announced the creation of the ENRD thematic group on “Smart Villages”, where Euromontana is part of a panel of 30 experts. Launched in 2017, this group meets 4 times a year to discuss options to revitalise rural services through both digital and social innovation by identifying examples, formulating recommendations and providing guidance and tools.
To complete the already existing resources on Smart Villages, briefing documents have been published. They aim at providing guidance to national, regional and local stakeholders involved in the development of the concept or in its concrete implementation on the ground.
To provide national policymakers and implementers with background knowledge on the concept and on its potential implementations at national level, a dedicated briefing document was published on Smart Villages: How to support Smart Villages strategies which effectively empower rural communities? It shows options to support Smart Villages at national level not only in the current but also in the next programming period, for instance in the framework of the post-2020 CAP’s Strategic Plans.
How to provide financial support to Smart Villages?
When it comes to financially support local initiatives, various options exist. The briefing document How can LEADER/CLLD support Smart Villages? explores barriers of these funding possibilities and presents recommendations to fully exploit their potential. Another briefing document is focused on the support to Smart Villages using non-LEADER/CLLD cooperation to support Smart Villages, for instance within the CAP Strategic Plans for the period 2021-2027.
How to ensure an inclusive governance?
ENRD also published a briefing document on Business models for rural services to guide local stakeholders towards a good implementation of the Smart Villages concept and to help in identifying the most relevant business model depending on local populations’ needs. To make sure these are considered, it is also important to develop the concept in consultation with citizens. For instance if overcoming the digital divide in rural area under the next CAP is crucial, changes arising from it need to answer specific needs of inhabitants, such as students or entrepreneurs, to truly benefit rural communities. Governance being a key tool of Smart Villages, citizens must be involved from the analysis phase to the implementation one. Thus, while co-designing and co-planning villages services, decisions must be co-adopted between local communities and policy-makers and mix bottom-up and top-down governance.
For more information on Smart Villages, please read Euromontana’s communication on the topic and visit the ENRD Portal, where you can find examples, events and studies collected within the thematic group “Smart Villages”. Good practices collected within the SIMRA project can also be a source of inspiration with social innovations playing a key role in the development of the full potential of rural areas.6 June 2019