Today (7th of May 2021), the Committee of the Regionse approved the opinion “Experience and lessons learned by regions and cities during the COVID-19 crisis” by NAT Rapporteur Joke Schauvliege, which was negotiated through all Committees.
There is a clear support to use of LEADER and Smart Villages for post-Covid recovery and also importance of use of LEADER as a broker for Smart Villages. In the draft the wording was ” is convinced that in order to tackle the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis in rural areas, it is important to revitalise LEADER, to step away from the narrow focus on agriculture and to explore the concept of smart villages as a way to enable more flexibility. There is a need to adapt the administrative requirements in such a way that volunteers or groups of residents can also participate in the programme. A more flexible approach will also be necessary to find a balance between solving short-term needs of local people and introducing innovation on a local level. This can be done for example by linking the Local Action Groups to networks of innovators”
Keep your eyes open for the official final document on the CoR homepage: https://cor.europa.eu/en/our-work/Pages/Opinions.aspx