Mountain areas are subject to demographic changes. Many areas are confronted with depopulation, the exodus of young people and an ageing population. Euromontana is convinced that mountains should be and remain places where people can live and work with a good quality of life. Euromontana therefore raises awareness of the particular challenges facing these areas and encourages the exchange of experiences between the regions concerned, with a view to finding innovative solutions to depopulation and exploring new opportunities for regional attractiveness.

Supporting sparsely populated and shrinking regions

Mountain areas are very diverse. While some regions are attractive, benefit from a diversified economy and offer a wide range of public services, others are suffering from demographic decline. Depopulation particularly affects the mountain regions of southern Europe, creating a vicious circle for the attractiveness of the area and the maintenance of services and the local economy. New areas are also threatened by depopulation. Territorial cohesion must ensure that these areas are not left behind.

We call for
  • Reinforcing Cohesion Policy and EAFRD support to ensure the development of these areas, the provision of public services and the creation of employment opportunities.
  • Rethinking rural-urban linkages to increase the attractiveness of these areas on a catchment scale.

Improving attractiveness to stem the outflow of young people

Many mountain areas are experiencing a migration of young people, especially in the most remote areas. The departure of young people poses challenges in terms of demographic decline, ageing, land abandonment or brain drain. Euromontana has carried out several studies on youth perceptions of the mountains in order to better understand their needs.

We call for
  • Developing training and employment opportunities in mountain areas, focusing on economic diversification and exploiting the potential of emerging and future-oriented green sectors.
  • Designing territorial strategies to attract young people, for example through new internship programmes, first employment schemes or teleworking incentives focused on rural areas.

Ensuring quality of life for an ageing population

Mountain areas are among the most ageing in Europe. A combination of factors is exacerbating ageing in mountain areas, such as general population shrinkage and land abandonment. The trend towards an ageing population is set to continue for several decades. This raises the question of the quality of life of older adults in our regions, in the context of a lack of public services and, in particular, medical desertification.

We call for
  • Giving priority attention in the relevant public policies to ageing rural, mountain and sparsely populated areas and developing the Silver Economy in the areas, in particular through the social economy.
  • Putting more effort into maintaining and developing public services in mountain areas, especially through innovative solutions or incentives to limit medical desertification and ensure access to mobility.

Assessing the impact of new lifestyles

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness of the quality of life in rural areas, including in mountainous regions, and has contributed significantly to the spread of teleworking. A revival of the attractiveness of these areas has been observed locally, but there are currently no data available to study this phenomenon on a large scale.

We call for
  • An in-depth study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on urban outmigration and on the impact of teleworking on mountain territories, for example involving the European Rural Observatory.
  • A thorough debate at European, national, regional and local level on the possible consequences of these new demographic trends, including issues such as housing and taxation.