On 1st December, the European Committee of the Regions adopted the opinion of Nanette Maupertuis, President of the Corsica Regional Assembly on “Enhancing Cohesion Policy support for regions with geographic and demographic handicaps (Article 174 the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU)”.
Released in early 2022, the 8th Report on economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU reveals that there are still important disparities among European regions and in particular, rural areas lag behind other territories. The principle of territorial cohesion is recognized by Article 174 of the Treaty on the European Union. This article states that Europe should strive for a harmonious development of its regions and a specific attention should be out on rural areas with permanent geographic, natural or demographic barriers, such as sparsely populated regions, mountains, islands, cross-border regions.
In her CoR Opinion, Ms Maupertuis called for a greater integration of these regions in the various European policies, beyond the Cohesion Policy, and she suggested concrete measures tailored to the diversity of rural territories.
AEIDL Senior Expert on Rural and Territorial Development Dr Serafín Pazos-Vidal acted as the technical draftsperson of this Opinion. AEIDL is a non-partisan organisation and is happy to work with a variety of stakeholders of different policy and political persuasions. Indeed, as a result to a number of compromises that were forged the Opinion was unanimous: it received the backing of all European political groups represented at CoR, as well as a variety of pan-European networks and regions that contributed to it.
“The European Union does not respect its founding treaty if it doesn’t sufficiently take into account the constraints of territories like islands, mountains and rural areas. Their geographical condition implies additional costs for services like transport, energy, digital connectivity that need to be considered in order to not increase interregional disparities. Therefore, the Committee calls for the needs of these regions to be included in the development of the various EU policies with a territorial dimension, beyond Cohesion Policy”, President Maupertuis said.
The debate on the plenary went on the need to reaffirm Article 174 through the European Cohesion Policy. Besides, the European Committee of the Regions underlined that the current efforts of the European Union in promoting cohesion via the Territorial Agenda 2030 and the new Long-term vision for rural areas may be insufficient.
AEIDL’s contributes to the CoR to advance the cause of better EU policies for innovative, integrated local development. It is in this vein that our colleague Carla Lostrangio gave evidence to the Stakeholder consultation on Targets and tools for a Smart Rural Europe that the Deputy Minister of Regional Development of the Czech Republic and Vice-chair of the CoR Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) Mr Radim Sršeň is currently preparing.