Even if the EU programmes 2021-2027 to support rural areas have barely been launched, the EU institutions are fully involved in setting up the broad priorities that will inform the post 2027 EU programmes and priorities for EU Cohesion and Rural policies. Many organisations, such as AEIDL, that committed to better EU policies for local development are also joining in the discussions.
The Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers of the EU, agreed on 20 November its conclusions document on the long-term vision for rural areas (LTVRA). The document advocates the implementation of initiatives that favour the development of these areas and the improvement of the living conditions of their inhabitants, with greater financial support beyond the funds of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) including rural development.
The document was a key priority of the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council. Its content was partly prepared by the discussions of the high-level rural policy forum on shaping the future of rural areas, organised in Sigüenza (Spain) on 27-29 September 2023 by the Spanish EU Presidency, the European Commission and the Rural Pact Support Office (RPSO), which is run by AEIDL.
The Council welcomes the rolling out of the EU Rural Action Plan to achieve the goals of the LTVRA by 2040. It invites all national and regional administrations, local authorities, and all stakeholders and communities to engage in the Rural Pact Community Platform. The analysis by the RPSO, elaborates on some key aspects of implementation of the vision and its holistic approach.
Together with these Conclusions, the Spanish EU Presidency was also able to reach agreement on 27 November on Conclusions on the future of EU Cohesion Policy. This is a key positioning as EU Regional development policies are presently discussing whether the next 2028-2034 programmes should be based on evolution or revolution, given the increasing challenges for Territorial Cohesion the EU and its Member States are facing. Precisely the European Commission’s DG REGIO has launched a High-Level Group on the future of the policy which is due to report end of this year.
To weigh into this debate the European Committee of the Regions agreed on 29 November its political priorities for the post 2027 debate, a process to which AEIDL staff contributed to. Interestingly, CoR is calling for EU Rural Development and EU Cohesion Policy to be at least as integrated as it was until 2020. More widely they propose a “European Partnership Pact” involving all EU funds under shared management by the EU and the national and territorial authorities.
Precisely the day after the European Parliament Regional Development Committee (REGI) agreed a position on Cohesion Policy and EU Territorial Agenda 2030, with a strong emphasis in making Community Led Local Development and Integrated Territorial Investments instruments that can really deliver various EU funds (multifund). Interestingly it is also proposing that 8% of EU Cohesion funds to support demographically declining regions, matching the same percentage already earmarked to urban areas.
AEIDL, as an organisation committed to improving the EU debate with evidence is leading on a number of new projects such as FUTURAL, RURACTIVE, SMARTERA and RURBANIVE where we will leading the development of EU Policy Recommendations to contribute to these debates over the coming four years. To reinforce our wide pool of expertise on Rural and Territorial Development we precisely welcomed Janne Sinerma on early December.