EU MAP meeting: focus on social dimension and digitalisation
On 24 November, the SHERPA EU Multi-Actor Platform held its 10th meeting in Brussels. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the needs, challenges and opportunities related to the social aspect and digitalisation in rural areas, based on the outputs of the recently published MAP Position Papers on the same topics.
The meeting was attended by different experts from civil society, policy and research fields: Alexia Rouby (European Commission- DG AGRI), Tom Jones and Vanessa Halhead (European Rural Community Alliance), Goran Šoster (Partnership for Rural Europe – PREPARE), Dominique Barjolle (ETH Zurich), Marion Eckartdt (ELARD), Majda Černič (University of Ljubljana), Sabrina Arcuri (University of Pisa), José María Sumpsi Viñas and Beatriz Guimarey Fernández (Politecnico de Madrid), Elin Slätmo (NordRegio) Olivier Chartier, Elodie Salle and Brigit Zomer (Ecorys), Carla Lostrangio (European Association for Information on Local Development).
Social dimension of rural areas in Europe
Ms Majda Černič, presented the main outputs of 9 MAP Position Papers on the topic of “Social dimension of rural areas”. Ranging from demographic issues, to weak social inclusion and limited access to social services, several are the challenges reported by SHERPA MAPs. In parallel, best practices have been identified, such as programmes providing child and elderly care, job creation, social revitalisation, and specific recommendations for policy and research.
To the same extent, Mr José María Sumpsi Viñas reported that the Aragon Region, Spain, developed several initiatives to improve the social aspect in the area such as Aragon Rural Diversity Plan 2019-2021. However, he called for a greater attention to the territorial aspect, and other pressing issues for the region such as migrant inclusion, as also reported within the MAP Aragon Position Paper.
Digitalisation of rural areas in Europe
In the afternoon, Ms Sabrina Arcuri presented the analysis of 4 MAP Position Papers on the topic of “Digitalisation in rural areas”. She reported that digitalisation is high in political agenda of all related MAPs and several initiatives have been launched, such as the Finland Digital Compass, Hungary Digital Success Programme. The main challenges remain the urban-rural digital divide and weak local governance. As reported by Ms Arcuri and further underlined by Ms Elin Slätmo, digitalisation can be used to strengthen the attractiveness of rural areas. This is what the MAP Norrbotten, Sweden, is working on. Within a sparsely populated region, with about 250,000 inhabitants and one of the most unbalanced access to digital infrastructures between rural and urban in Europe, Norrbotten is betting on digitalisation to attract people and workers in rural areas.
The meeting has served to discuss and further advance recommendations for policy and research on the two topics. The outputs of the discussion will be embedded in the forthcoming SHERPA Position Papers on the social aspect and digitalisation, and be presented during SHERPA Annual Conference (31 January – 1 February 2023).
Published by Carla Lostrangio