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The EU's long-term vision for rural areas must respond to the real needs of each territory, local leaders urged  

The European Committee of the Regions' Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) met on 22 November to discuss and adopt a draft opinion on the EU Long-term vision for rural areas, which should take into account the specific needs of European territories and the differences among them. During the meeting, members also presented their expectations and hope for tourism in the next decade and exchanged views on the future EU State aid rules for agriculture, rural areas and forestry; on the Health Emergency Response Authority ​and on the new EU Forest Strategy for 2030.

The members of the NAT commission adopted the draft opinion on the EU Long-term vision for rural areas, drafted by Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla (ES/EPP), President of the Region of Andalusia. Isidro Laso Ballesteros, member of the Cabinet of Commissioner for Innovation, Research and Culture Mariya Gabriel, and Sofia Björnsson, Chair of the Copa and Cogeca Working Party on Rural Development, joined the debate.

Ulrika Landergren (SE/Renew E.) , Member of Kungsbacka Municipal Council and chair of the NAT Commission, reminded that the CoR have been demanding a rural strategy for several years and contributed to its development, for example, through an own-initiative opinion last year.

The European Commission adopted its Long-term vision for rural areas on 30 June this year. The Communication outlines a strategy for making Europe's rural areas stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous by 2040. Several actions are scheduled for 2021 and 2022. The long-term strategy is also meant to contribute to the Conference on the Future of Europe. The Commission's long-term vision for rural area corresponds with major CoR's demands, such as the call for a comprehensive rural agenda, an action plan, mainstreaming rural issues into all EU policies, introducing a rural proofing approach.

Local authorities' underlined the importance of improving public transport services and connectivity, as well as deepening digital infrastructures; and diversify economic activities to new sectors in order to make rural areas more prosperous. The long-term vision should incorporate climate action and better prepare local economies for climate change, natural hazards such as fires, and economic crises.

The opinion is to be adopted at the CoR's plenary session on 26 January 2022.

During the meeting, members had also an exchange of views on the upcoming opinions:

In May 2021, the European Commission has published a Staff Working Document summarising the results of an evaluation of the State aid rules for the agriculture and forestry sectors and for rural areas. The evaluation concludes that some targeted adjustments may be necessary to align the current rules with the current EU priorities, in particular the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the European Green Deal. The Commission is now proceeding with the impact assessment of the review, to look into the issues identified during the evaluation, with the objective to have revised rules in place by 31 December 2022, when the current rules will expire.

The Commission proposes to establish a new Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA). The HERA should complement the work of existing EU health agencies. It should ensure the availability of critical medical countermeasures in emergencies (including vaccines, antibiotics, medical equipment, chemical antidotes, medicines, diagnostic tests or personal protective equipment such as gloves or masks), help reduce strategic dependencies in the health industry ecosystem by developing and supporting highly innovative, flexible and modular production capacities and contribute to the global health security infrastructure. A number of questions still need to be answered.

In July, the European Commission published the long-awaited new EU Forest Strategy 2030. The new strategy sets out a policy framework to ensure growing, healthy, diverse and resilient forests in the EU that contribute to biodiversity, provide livelihoods in rural areas and beyond, and support a sustainable bioeconomy that is based on the most sustainable forest management practices.

The working paper poses a number of questions, namely regarding: compatibility between the environmental, social and economic functions of forests, obstacles or barriers to achieving the main objectives of the strategy at regional and local levels and the most needed actions and measures to enhance forest biodiversity.

The NAT Commission meeting included a debate on the Strategic Outlook for Tourism. During a tourism debate with István Ujhelyi, Vice Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and Vice Chair of the Task Force Tourism of the European Parliament, Ksenija Flegar, Acting Director for Tourism, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology of Slovenia, Valentina Superti, Director DG GROW, Ecosystems II: Tourism and Proximity, and Manuel Alejandro Cardenete Flores (ES/Renew E.), Deputy Minister for Tourism, Regeneration, Justice and Local Administration of the Regional Government of Andalusia, local leaders shared experiences from the ground and explored how public authorities can support their tourism community in relaunching their operation and strengthening their resilience.

Meeting documents


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