European rural Agenda - 19/04/16

Conference - 19 April 2016 - Brussels
Advocacy for a rural agenda in the European programming period post 2020

A strong and shared advocacy for the adoption of a rural Agenda as a strategic reference of the next European policy for rural territories after 2020 : that is the clear conclusion of the conference organised by the international organisation Rurality-Environment-Development (R.E.D.) and the Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) of the European Committee of the Regions on April 19 in Brussels.

160419-salle.jpgThe works to shape the next European programming period - and its budget orientations - will begin soon: rural territories must be recognised as real partners of the European project and receive the means to develop their full and diversifed potential.

Meeting this challenge requires a renewed debate on European policy for rural territories: the drafting of a White Paper on rurality by the Commission and the adoption of a rural Agenda in the post 2020 programming are the policy steps expected. That is the call launched by the European Committee of the Regions, Rurality-Environment-Development and the European Countryside Movement which ask for the rural dimension to be included in all European policies in order to meet the Europe 2020 objectives

160419-peltre.jpgWith the ambition to better develop the potential of the European ruralities, Gérard PELTRE, president of R.E.D. and the European Countryside Movement, placed the April meeting in the expected perspective of a European rural Agenda as a strategic reference after 2020. The demand for a White Paper on rurality expressed by the 16 partner organizations of the European Countryside Movement would constitute a preliminary stage. He also emphasized, in the preamble of the RED proposal for a European Rural Agenda, the fact that "the challenges and objectives of a White Paper on rurality and a rural agenda are not only technical and financial but political . It is proposed to change the European paradigm by mobilizing the potential of all the territories and actors. Rural areas including mountain areas, peri-urban, island ... have always, in their diversity, able to find innovative solutions to meet the challenges they face as the whole of European society ».

160419-tribune.jpgFacilitated by Patrice COLLIGNON, director of R.E.D., the meeting was opened by Anthony Gerard BUCHANAN (UK), councillor, East Renfrewshire Council and first vice-chairman of the NAT Commission: « The huge growth potential of rural areas should not be forgotten. Failure to see rural areas as a vital resource could jeopardise the achievement of the Europe 2020 targets and undermine EU territorial cohesion ». The recent report of Randal LÄNTS (EE) « Innovation and modernization of the rural economy » adopted in mid-February by the European Committee of the Regions includes explicit support for the drafting of a White Paper as a starting point of a rural development policy after 2020.

An objective shared by the Walloon minister of rurality, René COLLIN, and the French Minister for planning, rurality and local authorities, Jean-Michel BAYLET. In his message to the participants, Mr BAYLET fully endorsed « the necessary integration of the specific issues of rurality in the post 2020 strategy » and supported the proposals of a White Paper on rurality and a Rural Agenda. And René COLLIN highlighted : « Rurality is neither urban annexe or just agricultural : it is, as a territory and as a sociological entity, a specific pillar of the Union, a lever and a growth driver thanks to its own resources».

« Places of opportunity », « areas of excellence and innovation », « territorial development accelerators »: these are just some of the expressions used at the conference, acknowledging rural territories as development poles.

Owing to their demographic diversity, rural areas play an important part in ensuring the success of European integration based on poles of development and innovation. To this end, Mihael DUMITRU, deputy general director of the Commission's Agriculture DG, made an appeal to join forces and use European resources for multi-stakeholder rural development.

Mathieu FICHTER, in charge of rural development, in the Cabinet of European Commissioner Ms. C. CREŢU also called for a widening of the integrated territorial approach in operational programs, with a wider use of the tools offered as ITI or CLLD.

The MEP and vice-chairman of the EP's Commission for Agriculture and Rural Development, Eric ANDRIEU (FR), pointed out that in many countries, rural areas were suffering from depopulation and an ageing demographic. « A "CAP for employment" is possible", he said. It requires a paradigm shift and a new social contract with territories » .

In the words of Mercedes Bresso MEP (IT), chair of the EP's Intergroup on Rural, Mountainous and Remote Areas (RUMRA), « we need to reshape the vision of how rural and mountainous areas should develop, and a white Paper by the European Commission is the right tool for putting rural and mountain communities back on the EU political agenda. It would mobilise institutions, stakeholders and experts at all levels, boost innovative strategies that balance the use of natural resources and improve connectivity for both transport and digital broadband ».

The numerous representatives of local and regional authorities, of the European Countryside Movement... highlighted the urgent need for:

  • an increase in financial support for rural development, including an increase in the EAFRD budget, and improved vocational training in those areas;
  • an access to broadband telecommunications networks, a key factor for competitiveness and economic grow
  • a better balanced urban-rural interdependence.

The seminar participants thus renewed the call for a white paper on rurality and for the rural agenda to be placed at the heart of the post-2020 EU policy as a matter of necessity. The meeting also provided an opportunity to publicise the R.E.D. proposal for a European political strategy for 2030: « Making Europe grow with rural territories ».

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More information: Patrice Collignon, R.E.D., rue des Potiers, 304, B-6717 Attert This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it g


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