Maintaining high quality of life in mountain areas
Equal access to services of general interest is a core issue affecting the functionality of mountain areas
Ensuring that the mountain population has access to postal services, health care, telecommunications or daily needs is not only contributing to maintaining a high quality of life in these regions but also to territorial cohesion throughout Europe. The European Commission underlines the importance of services of general interest by stating “Services of general interest play a major role in ensuring social, economic and territorial cohesion throughout the European Union” (Source: White Paper on services of general interest COM 2004/374).
Creating and implementing solutions adapted to the specificities of mountain areas
Mountain areas face difficulties to maintain existing services due to remoteness, difficult topography, high cost of maintenance, changing/new needs of the local population etc. Furthermore, ICT infrastructure and related ICT skills that could contribute to the sustainable delivery and maintenance of services are often lacking in mountain areas, where work has still to be done to bridge the digital divide. This challenging situation must be overcome by implementing innovative and tailor-made solutions that address the specificities of the areas. Such solutions do exist already and we encourage further exchanges of knowledge in that respect.
Euromontana has been highlighting the importance of services of general interest since its foundation in 1996 and aims to contribute to a better recognition of mountain needs and innovative capacities in this respect.
Policy – representation
In 2011, following a collaborative work done under the lead of SAB, Euromontana presented its’s position paper on services of general interest in mountain areas. Read also:
- The summary of the position paper dedicated to mountain stakeholders in English
- The summary of the position paper including political recommendations is available in English.
Follow –up of activities at EU level
Euromontana closely follows and inform its members about European policy development as regards services of general interest.
The key documents on services of general interest are the following:
- Communication “Services of general interest, including social services of general interest: a new European commitment”(2007)
- Communication “Reform of the EU State Aid Rules on Services of General Economic Interest”(2011)
- Communication on the application of the European Union State aid rules to compensation granted for the provision of services of general economic interest (2012)
- More communications from the European Commission can be found on the “Doc&Links” page (for Euromontana members only)
Joint activities with the ACCESS project (2008 – 2011)
ACCESS was an INTERREG IVb project within the Alpine Space Programme. The project aimed at improving accessibility of services of general interest in rural mountain areas. Euromontana assisted in the organisation of the final conference of the project on 28-29 June 2011.
Establishing relations to the CyberSUDOE projet (2009 – 2011)
CyberSUDOE (leadpartner: Cybermassif) was an INTERREG IVb (South/West of Europe). Its objective is to improve the competitiveness of SMEs through better use of ICTs. Euromontana supported the organisation of the final conference as well as the development of the good practice guide dedicated to mountain areas.
- 28-29 June 2011 | ACCESS final conference in Milano, Italy
- 3 February 2011| Intergroup “Specific territories” meeting on services of general interest in areas with specificities in Brussels, Belgium
- 14 October 2010| ACCESS conference: Accessing new ways – Organisational innovations for services of general interest in rural areas Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany | Visit ACCESS website
- Euromountains.net – (2000-2007):
The Interreg IIIC project aimed to identify models and collect innovative solutions and their transferable success factors in order to overcome the natural handicaps of mountain areas within three sectors. One of these sectors this project was looking at was public and private services. The identification and promotion of these models identified have broaden the range of «tools» available to territorial communities in order to contribute to sustainable development in mountain regions and/or limit population exoduses.
- Final report of theme 1 “Sustainable territorial development and improvement of services in mountain areas”
- Final report of theme 2 “The Role of Territorial authorities in Developing and Promoting Mountain Resources and Quality Products”
- The final conference “Territorial authorities and stakeholders: Creating success together” presentation
- LDTR project – study on services of general interest (2006)
In 2006, the LDTR (Loi française rélative au Développement des Territoires Ruraux) project “Exchange of European Experiences regarding the development of services of general interest in mountain areas” constituted another milestone on the way to shape the future development of services of general interest in mountain areas. Read the final report of the project.