Conference: For a Rural Agenda for the Post 2020 Programming Period, Brussels, 19 April 2016
Initial discussions on the EU's post-2020 programming period are about to commence. How will rural regions fare in these debates and in the proposals resulting from them?
Current development policies are creating imbalances between town and countryside. This gulf is widening and is taking us further away from the territorial cohesion aspired to in the Treaty on European Union.
Inequality in access to services of general interest is increasing for ordinary people and businesses. In rural areas, the deterioration in health, transport and social security services is a cause of concern to local people, who may sometimes feel abandoned.
The same goes for the quality of basic infrastructure that is essential for development, such as (ultra-fast) broadband or mobile telephony: the imbalance is all the more detrimental in view of Europe's digital society objectives.
The vitality of rural areas is nevertheless essential to the well-being of both rural and urban populations.
The potential of rural areas, in all their diversity, is not being adequately realised in relation to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. It will not be enough to adapt policy: a radical change is needed. It is time for the European Commission to launch an in-depth debate with a view to ensuring a better underpinning of rural policy post 2020.
This need is made explicit in the call for a White Paper on Rurality initiated by the European Countryside Movement and now taken up by numerous other bodies. Such a White Paper is an essential means of starting a real, broad-based debate on rurality, with a view to a rural agenda for inclusion in the post-2020 programming period.
As part of this process, the conference on 19 April is an important step towards taking more account of rural areas in future EU policies.
If you are interested, please register before 1 p.m. on 18 April 2016 via this link.