The current health crisis due to COVID-19 has shown how vital rural areas are to our livelihoods. A long-term vision for a rural Europe is now more important than ever. Yesterday (7 July 2020), a high-level webinar took place at the initiative of Dacian Ciolos, President of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, with the participation of Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, Werner Hoyer, EIB President, Iratxe Garcia-Perez, Leader of the S&D in the European Parliament, and representatives of rural networks and European organisations.
Guests and participants had the chance to exchange and present their vision of a rural Europe as well as highlighting potential directions for contributing to a sustainable and prosperous rural development.
Rural areas seem to be at the top of the EU agenda, being addressed through the recently published Farm to Fork Strategy and the European Green Deal. The capacity for rural areas to contribute to a greener, more sustainable and environmental friendly Europe is high, yet policy needs to unlock it in a manner that is just, fair and beneficial to rural communities across the EU. During her intervention, Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, announced the launch of an EU public consultation on the future of rural areas.
“The future of Europe’s local realities can only be shaped locally. And for that reason, in the second half of 2020 we will launch a public consultation with rural communities, local authorities and everyone who cares about the future of the countryside. This consultation will lead to a new strategy, a new vision for rural Europe.”Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
The proposed European budget foresees an increase of resources for rural development and agriculture. In addition, new resources for rural areas are expected also through the EU recovery plan, the Next Generation EU.
During this event, Hannes Lorenzen (President of ARC2020) mentioned the publication of the working document ‘A Vision and Strategy for Rural Europe – Now’ calling for a vision and strategy to take action now supporting the transition towards a more resilient, sustainable and fair rural Europe.
Dacian Ciolos, President of Renew Europe, concluded by highlighting that the challenge of integrating rural communities into the European political project will be one of the strongest indicators to measure the success or failure of relaunching the economy after this pandemic.
Within the SHERPA project, 20 Multi-Actor Platforms across Europe are currently discussing the topic of a long-term vision for rural areas, looking at opportunities and challenges in their local rural areas. To ease and guide this input, a SHERPA discussion paper has been made available drawing from recent scientific and technical publications, alongside outputs from research projects.