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The Rural Pact conference brought together EU, national, and regional politicians along with local authorities, social and economic stakeholders in a participatory event that reflected the rural vision’s ambition and bottom-up character.

It sought to engage participants in designing the governance of the Rural Pact and gather commitments for the achievement of the long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. To do so, the conference:

  1. Engaged all levels of governance and rural stakeholders in endorsing the goals of the vision and debating on how to reach them. The spotlight was placed on the key role rural areas can play in Europe’s future. High-level political and grassroots representatives from all levels of governance committed to taking the interests of rural areas into account. Frontrunners presented inspirational examples showing how they are already working towards the vision goals.
  2. Involved participants in implementing the vision through breakout sessions where participants indicated how they can contribute to achieving the goals of the vision. These sessions identified common interests and areas on which the local, regional and national level could act individually and in cooperation with others. Since the European Commission has already presented and committed itself to an Action Plan, the actions participants proposed were collected and presented during the conference’s closing session and will form the basis for the Rural Pact’s work programme.
  3. Increased the visibility of rural areas by involving high-level political guests from the European institutions and Member States to discuss the implementation of the first comprehensive EU-wide rural strategy. This will be key to strengthen the positive potential of rural areas and strategic role for the future of Europe, to generate buy-in from all levels of governance, and to increase the impact of policy in rural areas.

Plenary and breakout sessions were alternated to ensure maximum interaction at this event.


The conference was organised by the Commission in partnership with the European Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee, the European Parliament, the Presidency of the European Council and the European Rural Parliament.

On 30 June 2021, the Commission adopted a Communication on the long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. As part of this vision to create stronger, more connected, more prosperous and more resilient rural areas, the Commission committed to creating a Rural Pact. By bringing together the national, regional and local governance levels, as well as stakeholders, the EU Institutions and interested parties, this pact will be a framework for their cooperation, will support improved access to funding and contribute to ensuring the specific needs of Europe’s diverse rural areas are taken into account. 

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  • 15 Junio: 08.00 - 09.00 (Europe/Brussels)

    Day 1 – Pre-events - Collecting inputs and outcomes of preparatory discussions

    Registration and welcome coffee

  • 15 Junio: 09.00 - 10.30

    Parallel sessions (Pre-events)

    These sessions will present initiatives that various levels of government and stakeholders have taken in the run-up to the Conference. Participants will have the opportunity to highlight how they think each level can best contribute..

    Pre-event #A – Valley Room
    The national dimension of the Rural Pack

    Chair and rapporteur: Ms Emmeline ALLIOUX, Councillor at the French Permanent Representation to the European Union


    • Dr Klaus HEIDER, Director-General for Rural Development and Digital Innovation, German Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture
    • Ms Sabrina LUCATELLI, Senior Policy Expert, Italian Presidency of the Council, Department for Cohesion Policy, Director of Riabitarel’Italia, Italy
    • Dr Torben Dall SCHMIDT, Senior Research Fellow Helmut Schmidt University, Denmark
    • Mr Serafin PAZOS-VIDAL, Head of Brussels office, Convention of Scottish local authorities, COSLA
    • Ms Fátima BACHAREL, Senior officer, Innovation and Data Management for Territorial Indicators at the Directorate-General for Territory, Portugal

    Pre-event #B – River Room
    The local and regional dimension of the Rural Pact

    Moderator: Mr Sean Klein


    • Mr Franc BOGOVIC, MEP, European Parliament
    • Ms Ulrika LANDERGREN, Chair of the Committee of the Regions, Commission for Natural Resources
    • Mr Raschad AL-KHAFAJI, Director of the FAO Liaison Office to the EU and Belgium • Ms Dorthe NIELSEN, Executive Director, Eurocities
    • Mr Adrian Ovidiu TEBAN, Confederation of Towns and Municipalities of Europe

    Pre-event #C – Orchard Room
    Inputs from local communities and stakeholders

    Moderator: Mr Tom JONES, European Rural Communities Alliance


    • Ms Anita SELICKA, Executive Director, Latvian Rural Forum
    • Mr Ben VAN ESSEN, Director of the European Rural Community Alliance
    • Mr Leotrim GËRMIZAJ, Board Member of PREPARE-Partnership for Rural Europe
    • Ms Piroska KÁLLAY, Members of the European Economic and Social Committee’s Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Section
  • 15 Junio: 10.30 - 11.00

    Networking coffee

  • 15 Junio: 11.00 - 12.30

    Parallel thematic sessions

    Pre-event #D – Valley Room
    Revitalising rural areas lagging behind

    This session will focus on practical actions needed to boost vitality and viability of rural areas facing population loss, building on the insights and outputs emerging from the ENRD Thematic Group on Rural Revitalisation.


    • Ms Maria Begoña GARCIA BERNAL, Regional Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development, Population and Territory, Government of Extremadura, Spain
    • Ms Dorota KORENICKA-ZABAD, Chief Specialist-Coordinator, Marshal’s Office of West Pomerania Region, Poland
    • Mr Enrique NIETO, Policy Analyst, European Network for Rural Development Contact Point (ENRD CP)

    Pre-event #E – River Room
    Combining funds to achieve the vision goals

    This session will inform on the work on the ‘Toolkit on the use and combination of EU funds for rural areas’ and will present projects who have successfully combined EU funds. Participants will be asked where they see the major difficulties in combining funds in rural areas..


    • Mr Marek TEPLANSKI, Head of Unit for Inclusive Growth, Urban and Territorial Development, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission
    • Ms Ivana KASPAROVA, Senior Officer, Ministry of Regional Development, Czech Republic
    • Mr Alessandro GARGANI, Senior Business Development and Mandate Manager, European Investment Fund
    • Ms Aikaterini PROESTAKI, Project Manager, Managing Authority of OP Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Greece

    Pre-event #F – Orchard Room
    What evidence for better rural policies?

    This session aims at presenting the state of the art in the provision of statistics, data and analyses from Eurostat and the JRC, enabling a better understanding of rural areas and tailored policy design. It will explore which evidence is needed for various uses, for example for rural proofing, or to map “Functional Rural Areas”. The audience will be invited to provide its own expectations and help identify data gaps, with the final objective to become actors of the soon to be established “Rural Observatory”.


    • Ms Teodora BRANDMUELLER, Deputy Head of Unit for Regional Statistics and Geographical Information, EUROSTAT, European Commission
    • Mr Davide AUTERI, Policy Analyst, Joint Research Centre, European Commission
    • Mr Lewis DIJKSTRA, Head of Economic Analysis, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission
    • Mr Lilian NIACȘU, Head of Geography Department, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Faculty of Geography and Geology, Romania
    • Ms Antonia HUSBERG, Ministerial Advisor, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland
  • 15 Junio: 12.30 - 14.00

    Networking lunch

  • 15 Junio: 14.00 - 14.45

    1. High-level opening

    Master of ceremony: Mr Sean Klein


    • Ms Ursula VON DER LEYEN, President of the European Commission (video
    • Ms Dubravka ŠUICA, Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, European Commission
    • Ms Isabel CARVALHAIS, MEP, Rapporteur on the Long-term vision for the EU’s areas for the AGRI Committee, European Parliament
    • Ms Ulrika LANDERGREN, Chair of the Committee of the Regions, Commission for Natural Resources
    • Mr Peter SCHMIDT, President of the European Economic and Social Committee’s NAT section
    • Ms Marion ECKARDT, President of European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD)
    • Mr Janusz WOJCIECHOWSKI, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development (video)
  • 15 Junio: 14.45 - 15.45

    2. Cooperating across departments and governance levels

    This session will highlight the role public authorities at the national and regional level can play in acting for rural areas. Representatives of authorities will present inspiring strategies or actions dealing with rural areas in holistic ways and will explain how these initiatives came about and how they reflect on them moving forward.

    Rapporteurs from pre-event:

    • Ms Emmeline ALLIOUX, Councillor at the French Permanent Representation to the European Union
    • Ms Ulrika LANDERGREN, Chair of the Committee of the Regions, Commission for Natural Resources


    • Mr Patrice JOLY, Senator for the Nièvre, President of the French Rural Parliament and Association Nationale Nouvelles Ruralités, France
    • Mr José Luis MARTÍNEZ GUIJARRO, Vice-President of the Region Castilla-LaMancha, Spain
    • Mr Gareth MAKIM, Assistant Principal Officer, Rural Strategy, Department of Rural and Community Development, Ireland
  • 15 Junio: 15.45 - 16.15

    Networking coffee

  • 15 Junio: 16.15 - 17.15

    3. Empowering local communities and engaging stakeholders in building the future of rural areas

    This session will be about the action local authorities and stakeholders can take to act in their rural area. Project holders from local authorities, civil society and business organisations who have successfully implemented actions at the local level will take the floor.

    Rapporteur from pre-event:

    • Ms. Anita SELICKA, Executive Director, Latvian Rural Forum


    • Mr Thomas FISHER, Director of Community Development Lens, UK
    • Mr Christian JONET, Coordinator of the Ceinture Aliment-Terre Liégeoise, Belgium
    • Ms Eva-Lotta OBERG, Business Developer for the Municipality of Härnösand, Swede
    • Mr Aris ADLERS, President of PREPARE - Partnership for Rural Europe
  • 15 Junio: 17.15 - 18.00

    4. High-level stakeholder panel: shaping the Rural Pact together

    This roundtable will reflect on the previous sessions and discuss the proposal for the Rural Pact’s goals and governance. Panellists and the audience will also reflect on how all interested parties could best contribute to the Rural Pact.


    • Ms Marija VUČKOVIĆ, Minister of agriculture, Croatia
    • Mr Petri SALMINEN, President, SME United
    • Ms Doris LETINA, Vice-President and farmer, European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA)

    End of 1st day – Networking cocktail

  • 16 Junio: 09.00 - 10.30

    Day 2 – Parallel thematic sessions

    Session #5.1 – Stronger – Valley Room
    Rural youth as leaders of change

    Rural aspirations for 2040 will be explored from different angles: young farmer, entrepreneur, activist and youth worker. Youth led initiatives and actions supporting generation renewal and positive rural demography will be presented and will feed into the broader participatory discussion on youth engagement in the Rural Pact.

    Rapporteur: Mr. Maarten KOREMAN, PhD researcher, Delft University of
    Technology, Netherlands


    • Mr Charalampos PAPAIOANNOU, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission
    • Ms Anu SUOTULA, Youth worker and head of the national working group on Rural Youth, Keskipiste-Leader Ry Local Action Group (LAG), Finland
    • Ms Doris LETINA, Vice-President and farmer, European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), Slovenia
    • Mr Nicolas VERDEROSA, Founder and CEO,, Italy

    Session# 5.2 – Connected and Prosperous – River Room
    Digitalisation, transforming rural areas

    The session will highlight new opportunities to improve connectivity, including 5G communities and new broadband state aid guidelines alongside practical examples of how these can be used in various domains like e-health. It will engage stakeholders in considering how they can take action to benefit from these opportunities.

    Rapporteur: Prof. Mar DELGADO, Head of International Projection, University of Cordoba, Spain


    • Mr Franco ACCORDINO, Head of Unit for Investments in High-Capacity networks, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission
    • Mr Fabio NASARRE DE LETOSA, Senior Legal Expert, Investments in High-Capacity network, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission
    • Ms Willeke VAN STAALDUINEN, SHAFE Co-Ordinator and NET4 Vice-Chair and Grant Holder

    Session #5.3 – Resilient – Orchard Room
    Community driven sustainable energy action in rural villages

    Energy communities promote the uptake of renewables and energy security in rural areas, and provide social, economic, and environmental benefits. Project holders will present how they have overcome institutional and financial barriers to implement their strategies to kick-off the participatory discussion.

    Rapporteur: Ms. Eugenia BONIFAZI, Consultant Climate Change Policies, Ricardo Energy & Environment, Italy


    • Ms Eugenia BONIFAZI, Consultant Climate Change Policies, Ricardo Energy & Environment, Italy • Mr Arthur HINSCH, Officer for Sustainable Resources, Climate & Resilience, ICLEI – Local Government for Sustainability
    • Ms Maria CREHUET WENNBERG, Association of Catalonia micro-villages, Spain
    • Mr Sergio OLIVERO, President of the Scientific Committee, Renewable Energy Community “Energy City Hall” of Magliano Alpi, Italy
  • 16 Junio: 10.30 - 11.00

    Networking coffee

  • 16 Junio: 11.00 - 12.30

    Parallel thematic session

    Session #5.4 – Stronger – Valley Room
    Rural research and innovation ecosystems: social innovation, tourism and cultural and creative industries, start-up villages

    The session will raise awareness on the concept of rural innovation ecosystems, illustrate it through inspirational examples and discuss drivers, enabling conditions and barriers to their development. Participants will then discuss to identify concrete actions that stakeholders can take to support rural innovation ecosystems.

    Rapporteur: Prof. Simona TONDELLI, Deputy Rector, Full Professor Of Urban and Regional Planning, Alma Mater Studiorum - University Of Bologna, Italy


    • Prof. Simona TONDELLI, Deputy Rector, Full Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, Alma Mater Studiorum - University Of Bologna, Italy
    • Mr Daniel BASULTO, Project Coordinator TExTOUR, Fundación Santa María La Real, Spain • Ms Edina OCSKO, Director of E40 Group
    • Mr Sotiris TSOUKARELIS, Community Member, The High Mountains Social Cooperative, Greece

    Session #5.5 – Stronger – River Room
    Sustainable mobility solutions to connect rural areas with urban centres

    Public authorities and transport sector stakeholders will hear about examples on mobility management at the local and regional level, including on better urban planning to connect rural and suburban areas and on promoting the roll-out of digital solutions allowing people to use different modes of transport to reach their destination.

    Rapporteur: Ms. Lucia CRISTEA, Managing Director, European Integrated Projects
    (EIP), Romania


    • Mr Piotr RAPACZ, Team Leader, Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, European Commission
    • Ms Lucie KIRSTEIN, Scientific Advisor, National Academy of Science and Engineering, Germany
    • Mr Giorgio AMBROSINO, CEO, MemEx, Italy
    • Mr Manuel TSCHENET, CEO, Kufstein Mobil, Austria

    Session #5.6 – Resilient –
    Services for socially resilient and welcoming rural communities

    This session will address access to social and care services and the integration of minorities, people with a migrant background and refugees in rural areas. It will look into how these services can be provided, also across national borders.

    Rapporteur: Prof. Tialda HAARTSEN, professor in Rural Geography, Groningen University, Department of Cultural Geography, Netherlands


    • Ms Maria GAFO GOMEZ-ZAMALLOA, Deputy Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission
    • Mr Adolfo PATÓN MONGE, CEPAIM Foundation, Spain • Ms Jessica CARRENO LOURO, Project Manager, Association Internationale de la Mutualité (AIM), Belgium
    • Ms Julia WINKLER, Project Manager, Health Agency of Lower Austria/ Healthacross
  • 16 Junio: 12.30 - 13.30

    Networking lunch

  • 16 Junio: 13.30 - 15.00

    Parallel thematic sessions

    Session #5.7 – Stronger – Valley Room
    Place-based approaches for rural development: LEADER, CLLD and Smart Villages

    This session will explore the potential of place-based development in creating broader rural coalitions for action and advocacy. LEADER and CLLD networks and Smart Village initiatives grow from local needs and opportunities bringing together private and public stakeholders and NGOs in most corners of rural Europe.

    Rapporteur: Ms. Edina OCSKO, Director of E40 Group


    • Ms Maria GAFO GOMEZ-ZAMALLOA, Deputy Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission
    • Mr Friedrich PICHLER, Mayor, Municipality of Stanz, Austria
    • Mr Matías María RUBIO, Youth Leader, Jr21 Local Action Group (LAG), Spain
    • Ms Linda TÖRNER, Chair and Leader of Women on Wednesday (WOW), Sweden

    Session #5.8 – Connected and prosperous – River Room
    Social economy as catalyst to boost resilience and twin transition in rural areas

    The session will present examples the role of social enterprises in promoting the twin transition. Participants will reflect on how they could engage with social enterprises and stakeholders in the various policy domains contributing to reaching both the goals of the LTVRA and the Transition Pathway for the ‘Proximity and Social Economy’ ecosystem.

    Rapporteur: Victor MESEGUER, Director, Social Economy Europe


    • Mr Karel VANDERPOORTEN, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission
    • Ms Patricia ANDRIOT, Vice-President, RTES (Social Economy Local Authority Network), France
    • Ms Marta LOZANO MOLANO, President, WAZO COOP, Spain
    • Ms Sandra BERTHOLET, Vice-president, RURAL TOUR - European Federation of Rural Tourism

    Session #5.9 – Resilient – Orchard Room
    The strategic role of rural areas for climate and food security

    The EU’s rural are simultaneously a cradle of carbon storage and provide food for the EU’s population. These roles can be complementary as local food value chains provide more stable income and involve small farms, which can be more easily incentivised to adopt climate friendly schemes, e.g., peatland restoration on soils.

    Rapporteur: Mr. Liam MACHALE, Director of European Affairs, Irish Farmer’s Association of COPA-COGECA


    • Mr Fabien SANTINI, Deputy Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission
    • Chiara MICELLI, Policy officer, Directorate-General for Climate Action, European Commission
    • Ms Laura ARNALTE MUR, Researcher, Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain
    • Mr Aldert VAN WEEREN, CEO Wetland Products Foundation, Germany
    • Ms Monica COLETTA, Vice-President, Italian Association of Organic Agriculture (AIAB)
  • 16 Junio: 15.00 - 15.30

    Networking coffee

  • 16 Junio: 15.30 - 16.15

    6. Actions, ideas and commitments for the work programme

    The rapporteur of each parallel session will come up on stage and present the session outcomes in terms of commitments and ideas for collaboration.

    Speakers:Rapporteurs from each parallel sessions 5.1 to 5.9

  • 16 Junio: 16.15 - 17.00

    7. High-level round table: the way forward for the Rural Pact

    This roundtable will assess the outcome of the parallel sessions, the work programme for the Rural Pact that comes out of them and outline the steps to be taken in the month ahead.


    • Ms Elisa FERREIRA, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms (video)
    • Mr Radim SRSEN, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Regional Development of the Czech Republic
    • Mr Daniel BUDA, MEP, Vice-Chair COMAGRI, European Parliament
    • Ms Ulrika LANDERGREN, Chair of the Committee of the Regions, Commission for Natural Resources
    • Mr Josep PUXEU, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee’s, NAT section
    • Mr Tom JONES, President of ERCA - European Rural Communities Alliance
  • 16 Junio: 17.00 - 17.15

    8. Conclusions


    • Mr Normunds POPENS, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission
    • Mr Wolfgang BURTSCHER, Director-General, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission

Practical information

15 June 2022, 9.00 - 16 June 2022, 17.30 (CEST)
The Sheds (Tour & Taxis)
Avenue du Port/Havenlaan 86c
B-1000 Brussels

English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Spanish
Who should attend
Rural stakeholders and stakeholder organisations interested in working with and for rural areas from all sectors and fields of interest; local, regional and national government representatives; EU institutional representatives; Other interested parties