Benefits of the Future of Europe Conference for Smart Villages
MEP Engin Eroglu
A number of persistent prejudices against rural and remote regions still persist today. Behind these stereotypes and tribalism, the fact that more than half of Europe’s population comes from rural and remote regions is all too often hidden. Rural regions are therefore not strange exotics, but on the contrary, a core component of the European population. The links between more urban and rural regions are also much more deeply rooted than they might first appear. Through energy and agribusiness, there are very close economic ties between urban and rural areas. Against this background, it seems all the more dramatic that there are still significant differences in the quality of infrastructure between urban and rural areas. For example, around a quarter of people from rural and remote regions still do not have an adequate Internet connection.
It is precisely these challenges that we want to counteract with the RUMRA & Smart Villages intergroup, among others.
But the Conference on the Future of Europe also provides an ideal platform to explore the specific and highly diverse challenges and the solutions to them with the stakeholders themselves. The conference gives members of rural communities the opportunity to express political ideas and concerns themselves and directly without bureaucratic hurdles. It is an urgently needed tool of direct democratic participation in the EU. If the possibilities of direct involvement of citizens are not given the necessary attention, the EU will create a bloated paper tiger whose impact will fall far short of expectations. The measures can therefore only be effective if they are adapted to the local context at a lower level in cooperation with the people concerned. Linking the Conference for the Future of Europe with the work of the Intergroup RUMRA & Smart Villages can therefore contribute significantly to the success and an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable Europe for more than half of the European population living in rural regions.