EURUFU helps public authorities address demographic change in rural regions

Through exchanges of best practices, information, and pilot actions in partnership with various stakeholders, rural regions in Central Europe are developing ways of adapting to demographic change while delivering consistently high-quality public service.

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The core of the EURUFU project are 17 pilot actions working towards rural development. The core of the EURUFU project are 17 pilot actions working towards rural development.

" EURUFU has developed strategies for regional self-supporting solutions that provide equal-opportunity and living conditions. It is about very practical issues that affect the lives of people in Europe in many ways. In Thuringia for example it is ensuring patient medical care by care assistants or a simplification of access to public transport with the help of a mobility consultant. Such projects help to secure the future of rural areas in the Free State of Thuringia. One thing has been clearly shown in recent years: We can only shape change if we are willing to question the status quo, to test new approaches and to walk uncommon paths. "

Dr. Klaus Bongartz, project coordinator

The project partners of the cross-border initiative EURUFU, which stands for “European Rural Futures”, have teamed up to find innovative solutions to problems such as depopulation, an ageing population, lack of social cohesion, and unemployment. Pilot actions in the different rural regions aimed at involving local stakeholders and creating a bottom-up process which would allow inhabitants to participate in public decision-making, thereby bringing the administration closer to the people.

Five work packages and 17 pilot actions to create one overarching strategy

EURUFU is divided into five work packages which deal with project management; communication among the partners and to the public; creating a methodology for identifying regional strengths and weaknesses; testing and evaluating measures through pilot actions; and developing transferable strategies and best practices.

The core of the project is formed by 17 pilot actions, up from the originally planned 10 actions, in the categories Public social infrastructure, Social housing, Education, Job opportunities, Social infrastructure and mobility demands, and Mobility. Examples of actions include, for example, efforts to improve ambulant medical care in the Kyffhaeuser district in Thuringia, Germany; new housing opportunities for young people in Asti, Italy; or competence and language courses for jobseekers in Usti region, Czech Republic. The added value, transferability, and sustainability of each project action has been evaluated according to a “combined testing” report, leading to a global evaluation.

Identifying rural potential in difficult times

The EURUFU project also worked on providing a clear definition and delimitation of rural areas in Central Europe as well as a benchmarking system which helps all local and regional target groups, including stakeholders like schools, health and social care providers and municipalities in their negotiations with national authorities. These systems form the basis of a strategy to bring out the potential of rural regions, and constitute one of the main transferable achievements of the project.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “European Rural Futures - New opportunities to secure the provision of public services in rural cities and municipalities (EURUFU)” is EUR 2 163 713 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contributing EUR 1 720 938 through the “Central Europe” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

Draft date