The European Commission has initiated a public consultation in order to discuss the future of rural areas and their role in our society. The purpose is to develop a committed and shared long-term vision for rural areas (LTVRA), which properly addresses challenges faced by these regions, as well as access to service, income levels, demographic change, and connectivity. Likewise, the consultation explores future opportunities of rural areas and their attractiveness.
The Commission has defined a Roadmap, which started with the public consultation in September 2020 and end in 2021 with the publication of the Commission Communication defining the European vision for the next 20 years. The consultation process has been conducted using a questionnaire and involving people from rural areas, local authorities, stakeholders and the academia. In addition, during the first quarter of 2021, it will carry out a foresight exercise.
The elaboration of the Communication will engage the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the Commission, the thematic groups of the European Network of Rural Areas (ENRD), and other stakeholders. The ENRD thematic group, composed of stakeholders from different European countries, will stimulate the discussion on the Long Term Rural Vision, operating as a knowledge platform to discuss and communicate results (the reader can access to the Long Term Rural Vision Portal here), but also to foster the stakeholder engagement. Furthermore, the group will contribute to the ENRD Conference.
The Communication will provide a holistic vision about the future of rural areas, basing on the public consultation, the outcomes of the foresight exercise, and on other sources as well as the “Report on the impact of demographic change” and the “Green paper on ageing”.
With this initiative, the EC insists on the importance of rural areas across different European policies. As claimed by the President Von Der Leyen, rural areas are a core part of the European identity and economic potential, thus it is crucial to invest in their future and development.