The European Committee of the Regions, members of the European Parliament and the International Association Rurality-Environment-Development met on 12 November in Brussels to discuss the specific needs of rural areas post-2020.

The participants agreed that rural areas should have similar opportunities to the initiatives launched for urban areas, and should be at the centre of EU economic and social policies in the next cohesion policy programming period.

In order to foster cohesion, the speakers welcomed the Parliament’s proposal for increased coordination of EU policies in the form of a Smart Villages Pact, as well as commitment to a European Rural Agenda, a financial framework for the integrated development of rural areas.

“With this resolution the European Parliament aims to assure citizens outside urban areas that they hold opportunities similar to those in urban areas”, said MEP Franc Bogovič.

“In my view, the key elements in this respect are knowledge transfer and innovation, assistance for young farmers and generational renewal, and support for medium-sized enterprises”, said MEP Ulrike Müller.

They concluded by urging the EU Commission to take account of the specificities of the rural areas in its future legislative proposals, and to provide them with adequate funding under the European Structural and Investment Funds.