The Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published a report on Scenarios for EU Rural Areas by 2040, which aims to provide evidence-based scientific support to the European policy-making process. In particular, this report contributes to the discussions and the development of the Long-Term Vision for EU Rural Areas put forward by the European Commission in 2021.

The study was carried out in a participatory process with the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) Thematic Group on the Long Term Rural Vision between September and December 2020.

It summarises the results of a foresight study on the future of EU rural areas 2040 and develops four scenarios: (i) Rurbanities; (ii) Rural renewal; (iii) Rural connections; and (iv) Rural specialisation.

One of the drivers of change considered in the characterisation of the scenarios is digital infrastructure and services. It is highlighted that digitalisation con­nected with artificial intelligence (AI), big data, In­ternet of Things and automation are set to reshape the economy.

In addition, new forms of transport and mobility will increase both economic opportunities (logistics costs and efficiency) and services (transportation, delivery). The report introduces the concept of Smart Villages, which aim to discover and implement new innovative solutions to address local challenges and improve citizen’s lives. The concept focuses on the opportunities that ICT (information communications) technologies can offer, with the important caveat that digitalisation is a tool, but not a goal in itself.

DESIRA is working on developing a robust scenario development methodology. This methodology will be applied by the Living Labs to carry out Scenario workshops and to draw the related reports that will allow for comparative analysis among them.

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