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What is at stake for Europe’s rural areas?

Jan 23, 2023 | News

Following the recent approval of the EU Committee of the Regions’ Opinion on “Enhancing Cohesion Policy support for regions with geographic and demographic handicaps (Article 174 the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU)”, our Senior Expert, Rural and Territorial Development Dr Serafin Pazos-Vidal, who was also the technical expert in the drafting of the Opinion, has produced a detailed assessment on what have we learned about this process.

AEIDL’s analysis highlights that while the areas facing very diverse structural handicaps (depopulation, remoteness, industrial transition, insularity, etc.) they can be protected and promoted by the EU through a more expansive reading of the existing EU Treaties as well as more comprehensive of responses that go beyond EU Cohesion Policy.

During the different stages of negotiations and contributions from the Commission, the European Parliament and many European territorial associations, the difficulty of moving beyond tried and tested EU policy and financial responses was also evident – even if those significant efforts are still insufficient for the needs of a large number of Europe´s regions that risk falling behind.

As such, this AEIDL analysis contributes towards commencing the policy discussions for post 2027 EU policies and funds. All the EU institutions, and notably the European Commission and the European Parliament, are in preparation for the future shape of EU policies. As last time round, the EC is launching a High Level Group on the Future of Cohesion Policy in January.

Equally, AEIDL works in an ever expanding set of Horizon Europe EU funded collaborative research projects with a large set of top universities, public administrations and civic society organisations. We draw on the expertise AEIDL gathers through the participation of these projects to advocate for EU policies that foster innovative, inclusive local development.

A recent example is Dr Pazos-Vidal’s contribution to the SHERPA project discussion paper “Empowering rural areas in multi-level governance processes”. It provides a synthesis of key European policies and scientific evidence on the topic of governance in rural areas. This paper aims to trigger discussions around rural governance and co-create new possible solutions for place-based policy making; enhancing urban-rural interconnections and interdependencies; inclusive and participatory governance as well as Collaborative Rural Network Governance.