The European Commission (EC) has published the key outcomes of the public consultation on the Long-term vision for rural areas (LTVRA) held between 7 September and 30 November 2020.

A total of 2 326 respondents from all EU Member States have participated in the process. The consultation gathered the perception and views of Europeans on a range of issues, including the needs of rural areas today, what makes rural areas attractive, opportunities for the future, and governance in rural areas.

Respondents believe that the attractiveness of rural areas, over the next 20 years, will largely depend on the availability of digital connectivity (93%), of basic services and e-services (94%) and on improving the climate and environmental performance of farming (92%). In addition, over  50% of them stated that infrastructure, especially in terms of public transport, is the most pressing need for rural areas. Access to basic services and amenities was also cited as an urgent need for 43% of participants.

When asked if people felt left behind by society, 39% of respondents responded positively. This share increases for participants involved in farming (45%), living in rural areas (41%) and living in remote rural areas (56%). The most important reason cited for this is the deteriorated infrastructure and services (61%).

During the Rural Vision Week, hosted by the European network for rural development (ENRD) between 22 and 26 March 2021, all findings will be presented.

The Working Groups of the Rural Digitalisation Forum prepared a contribution to the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas, analysing the key digital game changers shaping the future of agriculture, forestry and rural areas, as well as a series of recommendations to boost sustainable digitalisation in rural areas by 2040.