The European Parliament voted nearly unilaterally in favour of the report on the long-term vision for rural areas, which was written by our RUMRA and Smart Villages Intergroup Member Isabel Carvalhais. Our co-chair, Franc Bogovič, shadowed the text for the EPP Group and our Member Jérémy Decerle for Renew Europe. The fact that the report did not receive a single amendment to its text is proof of the unity that exists in the European Parliament across all political groups on the topic of rural development.

The report demonstrates the importance of the long-term vision and the added value of the rural pact. It ensures that rural areas remain high on the political agenda. It shows that the European Commission and the European Parliament are aligned in achieving a demographic, green and digital transition in rural areas.

The mission is to make rural areas more prosperous, dynamic and attractive places for people to live and work in, while preserving their original character. Food security and food waste are key concerns.

We need to address the political discontent in rural area and help solve it by giving rural citizens ownership over their communities and actively involving them in the ongoing process of the digital, green and demographic transition.

EU funds complement each other in the support of our rural areas and we are pleased to see that 100 billion Euros form the European Agricultural fund are earmarked for the rural development budget, while 33 billion euros can be found within the cohesion policy for investments in rural areas.

The Long Term vision for rural areas mentions smart villages as a flagship project that can help solve the problem of rural depopulation and the demographic challenges we are faced with. High-speed broadband connections in rural areas are central to the solution, because it will allow rural areas to develop new options and opportunities and create jobs. We have to provide financial support on various levels from various sources, in order to cover all the important areas of rural development, such as precision farming, e-health, mobility and sustainable energy solutions. We need a common rural development policy and with the long-term vision we believe that we have received that.

A successful future of rural areas in Europe, which span over 80% of the European territory and inhabit 30% of the European population, is essential for the great challenges we face in European society, especially in light of the war in Ukraine and the ongoing effects of the pandemic. The European Green Deal and food security in Europe are part and parcel of what we are committing to through the long-term vision. Now all the good initiatives that we have, in order to help achieve true cohesion between our rural and our urban citizens, need to turn into action with clear-cut goals.

Now that we have the report, we need clear commitments from the EU. We need an integrated cross-cutting view. Not a sectoral one.

It is our understanding that the European Commission will amend its version from June 2021 to our version.

“The long-term vision provides a good starting point. But it takes more than words, it takes concrete actions to answer the dire challenges rural areas & communities are facing and help them be stronger, more connected, resilient and prosperous”, Isabel Carvalhais.