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Thriving rural areas are key to the EU's future, regions and cities underline  

Logroño declaration calls to consider the needs of rural areas in all EU policies and to earmark EU funds for projects in rural areas.

Europe's local and regional leaders have warned that the EU's long-term sustainable development cannot be achieved without strong and sustainable rural areas and the complete integration of rural communities into the European project. A declaration adopted today at the European Committee of the Regions' Bureau meeting in Logroño, Spain, stresses that all EU policies should account for rural proofing, promoting the attractiveness of rural areas and protecting the quality of life of rural populations, and that rural areas need targeted support to adapt to the climate crisis and the green transition.

Rural areas across the European Union are facing long term systemic challenges including depopulation, shrinking labour force, the lack of essential services, and insufficient investments to respond swiftly to the green and digital transitions. By adopting the Logroño declaration on Ensuring the development of thriving and vibrant rural areas, European local and regional leaders are urging the European Union institutions to fully involve and support rural areas for the success of the European project.

Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: "One out of four people live in Europe’s rural areas, which account for around 75% of the EU’s territory. These regions are fundamental for the long-term sustainable development and the social and territorial cohesion of the European Union, but depopulation and the climate crisis may put their future at risk. With better targeted policies, in particular for the green and digital transitions, rural areas can have the tools to ensure access to quality jobs, health and education services, and attract young people. With the Logroño Declaration, the European Committee of the Regions sent a clear message: to achieve a sustainable future, the European Union needs strong rural areas with the full participation of rural communities into the European project."

As pointed out in the CoR's Annual Report on the State of the regions and cities in EU, 30 million people will have left Europe's rural areas between 1993 and 2033. This risks having severe consequences for the EU's sustainable development, economic growth, farmers livelihood and agri-food production, climate-neutrality goals, provision of public services, social well-being and democracy.

The Logroño Declaration underlines the importance of retaining and attracting young people to pursue their life goals in rural areas. Regions and cities are urging to consider the vulnerabilities and needs of rural areas in all investments under the Common Agricultural Policy and cohesion funds, the national recovery and resilience plans, and other Union programmes, as well as in their future design. In particular, they are calling for minimum earmarking of European funds for projects in rural areas in both cohesion policy operational programmes and other European direct intervention programmes, such as Horizon Europe, the Connecting Europe Facility or Creative Europe.

Furthermore, the climate crisis and biodiversity loss are having a significant negative impact on the agri-food sector. Adaptation to climate change, support for farmers, and disaster risk management should therefore be further reinforced in close cooperation with local authorities. The Logroño Declaration stresses that while the European Green Deal provides many opportunities for rural areas especially through renewable energy production, rural populations need adequate support to ensure a just transition.

Taking part in the debate, which was part of the official programme of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union, Alfredo González, Secretary of State for Territorial Policy, said: "Spain is the best example that a decentralised system can work perfectly when all institutions work loyally and cooperate with each other, as happened during the pandemic or when addressing the consequences of the war or natural disasters.” He stressed that “regions and local authorities are an essential player in improving the day-to-day management of major national and EU policies and the European Committee of the Regions is our partner in promoting these ideas in all corners of the European Union.”

The President of the Government of La Rioja, Gonzalo Capellán (ES/EPP), participated in the meeting of the Conference of Presidents on Monday, where he demanded that “the voice of the regions and the local be taken into account in the policies of Brussels: from the local reality, in its diversity and its specificity, in direct collaboration with local actors," he stressed. “From my government, we defend a modern, sustainable and accessible municipality model with the determined commitment to boost competitiveness and innovation, combining our rich cultural and social heritage for economic development,” he concluded.


Lauri Ouvinen

Tel. +32 473536887

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