Today, the European Commission launched a public consultation on its new initiative for a long-term vision for rural areas. This consultation aims to collect views on current opportunities and challenges in rural areas, aspirations for rural areas in 2040 and the actions needed to achieve these aspirations.
Any interested European, including consumers, the agri-food sector, rural SMEs, EU countries, regional and local authorities, farmers, civil society organisations, rural youth, NGOs, local action groups, rural networks and academics can contribute to the online public consultation until 30 November 2020. The Commission wants to ensure a wide consultation and invites everyone interested in the future of rural areas and their inhabitants, to share their views.
The public consultation on the long-term vision for rural is a first step towards a Commission Communication on the topic, to be published mid-2021. This Communication will aim to support a debate at European level on the future of rural areas and the place they should have in our society. It will propose actions to be taken, including in the shorter term, to achieve this long-term vision for the future of rural areas.
In the EU, 96 million people live in rural areas, which cover 45% of the EU’s territory.
Rural areas offer a range of social and economic opportunities to rural dwellers and the society as a whole, with a unique quality of life, job opportunities in many and diverse business areas. They have a special role to play in the transition to a green and sustainable Europe, by mitigating climate change, providing alternatives to fossil fuels and developing the circular economy. In addition, the COVID-19 crisis could lead to significant changes to society, which rural areas could benefit from.
They have also their own set of specific challenges, especially linked to remoteness: access to public and health services, connections, education and youth-drain.
The need for designing a long term vision for rural areas was underlined in President Von der Leyen’s political guidelines and in the mission letters to Vice-President Suica, Commissioner Wojciechowski and Commissioner Ferreira. Various EU policies currently support and play important roles in rural areas, and will therefore be key in developing the long-term vision for rural areas. Those include the Common Agricultural Policy, Regional, Cohesion and Social policies and a number of other EU policies such as those dealing with energy, transport, connectivity, environment or climate.
7 Meán Fómhair 2020