The RUMRA & Smart Villages Intergroup welcomes and strongly supports the European Commission’s commitment to developing a new Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas, as well as the feedback process the Commission has launched through a Roadmap and a public consultation. We look forward to collaborating with all EU actors to create a holistic 2040 development strategy for rural areas in Europe.
RUMRA & Smart Villages connects civil society organisations and policymakers to enable exchanges on innovative ways to create vibrant and attractive rural communities. The Intergroup aims to strengthen territorial cohesion in the EU by addressing the specific needs of rural, mountainous and remote areas.
We want to build a sustainable and resilient future for rural communities in Europe. Indeed, the well-being of all Europeans relies on the diversity of EU territories. Not only do European citizens depend on rural areas for food, land use, energy, water and raw material, but rural territories are also a source of creativity and innovation, in which a large part of the European cultural and natural heritage is rooted.
Despite their potential, rural areas are too often impeded by systemic issues such as demographic change, the lack of connectivity, low income levels, an old building stock and a difficult access to healthcare, education and services. Rural, mountainous and remote areas thus require a specific and dedicated policy attention.
We call on the European Commission to adopt a European Rural Agenda, with ambitious and concrete policy targets that will transform into actions on the ground. By 2040, we aim for rural areas to be attractive places to live, work and visit, also for young people. We hope to see investment in high-quality transport, educational opportunities and the deployment of high-speed broadband. We particularly encourage the Commission to continue supporting Community-Led Local Development as well as Smart Villages to revitalise public services through digital and social innovation, and to ensure the roll-out of cost-efficient and cleaner energy solutions. We envision a smarter economy, on the way towards carbon-neutrality, with the development of skilled employment in the circular economy and life-long training programmes.
We urge the European Commission to build on the European Parliament Resolution of 3 October 2018 on addressing the specific needs of rural, mountainous and remote areas (2018/2720(RSP)). This resolution focuses on concrete priority areas to improve the quality of life in these territories and promote socioeconomic development, economic growth and diversification, social wellbeing, protection of nature, as well as cooperation and interconnection with urban areas in order to foster cohesion and prevent the risk of territorial fragmentation.
The Resolution specifically calls for a European Rural Agenda, a strategic policy framework providing real political ambition and operational guidelines for the development of rural territories. Complementing the existing Urban Agenda, this European Rural Agenda would further the territorial cohesion objectives enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. The Resolution also urges the establishment of a Smart Villages Pact, with a view to ensuring a more effective, integrated and coordinated approach to EU policies, involving all levels of government in order to meet the objectives of rural proofing, access to public services, energy, digitalisation, training and innovation.
The previous RUMRA Intergroup (2014-2019) and the new RUMRA & Smart Villages Intergroup have continuously supported these calls for action. The Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas is now an opportunity to implement the European Rural Agenda, and to give rural citizens the recognition and attention they deserve.