Mar Delgado, partner of DESIRA and leader of the policy work, participated in the public hearing of the European Parliament on the future of rural areas.

In June 2021, the European Commission launched the Long-term Vision for Rural Areas, an initiative built on analysis, foresight activities, and contributions from communities that lays the foundations for the future of European rural areas.

In order to ensure continued progress in the definition of this strategy, the Committees on Regional Development (REGI) and on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) of the European Parliament organised a public hearing. It was held on 16 March 2022, and 4 experts from different areas were invited, among which Mar Delgado, DESIRA partner from University of Córdoba (Spain), stands out. As an expert in European rural development policies, she shared some ideas on how to approach the implementation of this Vision in all Member States. Delgado stressed that rural areas must be recognised for their key role in the provision of goods and services (food, transport, carbon fixation, landscape, etc.) and thus, be intrinsically interconnected with cities and not subordinated to them. She also highlighted the need for commitment from all citizens (rural and urban) and for the development of cross-cutting strategies that are not linked only to organisations related to rural areas.

Due to the heterogeneity of this remote zones, our partner proposed to design contextualized initiatives that go beyond public funding and support, allowing private actors and initiatives to also be part of the game.

Questions and proposals

The president of the European LEADER Association, Marion Eckardt, and Michael Fischer, representative of the Austrian Rural Network, participated too, sharing insights on how local action groups (LAGs) are essential to build bridges between different policies. The Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, pointed out that many European policies don’t have a more territorial approach that contemplates rural areas and the negative effects that there are on them. For his part, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, presented future plans, among others the conference on the Rural Pact which will take place in Brussels this year, on June 15 and 16.

The parliamentarians’ questions have been directed, for the most part, to knowing the specific strategies to attract and keep youth in rural areas and how to translate the Rural Vision at the different political levels. They have also made proposals, such as the reduction of bureaucracy –which leaves out small ent ties– or that all strategies should be made from rural communities.

Mar Delgado’s presentation is available here and the recording of the public hearing, here.