“We need a European rural agenda to improve urban-rural integration and revitalize rural communities”, says Ulrika Landergren, Chair of Renew Europe CoR’s Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) and Member of Kungsbacka Municipal Council, during the high-level opening of the Rural Pact conference, along with European Commission’s Vice-President Dubravka Suica.
On 15-16 June, over 450 participants representing EU, national, and regional policy makers along with local authorities, social and economic stakeholders gathered for the first Rural Pact conference. They agreed on the governance of the Rural Pact and committed to achieving the long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. Over these two days, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) together with other participants and members of the Rural Pact community started making commitments to make the EU’s rural areas stronger, more connected, resilient and prosperous by 2040.
Landergren believes that the most strategic areas in which local and regional cooperation should be developed under the Rural Pact are: bioeconomy and specifically environmentally sustainable agriculture, regional food systems, mobility,digital connectivity, social and cultural vitality as well as innovation in social services of general interest, and renewable energies.
“Revitalizing rural areas is needed to create stronger, more connected, prosperous, and more resilient rural areas. It would support local development, climate, biodiversity, environment, and animal welfare to keep our rural areas strong as they provide us with our food, homes, jobs and essential ecosystems”, she added.
Rural areas will only benefit from these tools if different levels of government work together. If the national governments develop their strategies without regions and cities, if the governments do not consider the impact of their strategies on rural areas and the rural/urban balance, we will loose several years for implementing this vision of revitalizing rural areas to create stronger, more connected, prosperous, and more resilient rural areas. It would support local development, climate, biodiversity, environment, and animal welfare to keep our rural areas strong as they provide us with our food, homes, jobs and essential ecosystems.
“The European Committee of the Region has been calling for a strategic approach to rural areas for a long time. Now is the time to act and make things happen with the tools we have at our disposal: the Commission’s flagships for the Rural Action Plan, Strategic plans for the CAP to adopt and cohesion instruments and the recovery and resilience facility”, said Landergren.
In these difficult times, it is more important than ever that we all work together to make sure that no region is left behind. The rural world is looking at us and we cannot miss this chance. We need a European rural agenda to improve urban-rural integration and revitalize rural communities.