|Press release from EPP-Group in Committee of the Regions
Funding for Community-led local development (CLLD), more support for experiments and use of greenhouses, revitalization of rural traditions, the need of an ambitious and flexible Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and the engagement of regions in the design of the CAP. These were the main reactions of EPP-CoR members following a debate on recovery and resilience in rural areas with Janusz Wojciechowski, Commissioner for Agriculture and Franc Bogovič, (SL/EPP) Co-Chair of the Intergroup on Rural, Mountainous and Remote Areas of the European Parliament.
JuanMa Moreno Bonilla, President of Andalusia said that regions should be more actively engaged in the design of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and implementation of National Strategic Plans. This will not only speed up the recovery and resilience of rural areas in the aftermath of the pandemic, but it will also ensure ownership and proper implementation of all policies targeting the rural revival.
Radim Sršeň, Member of Dolní Studénky Municipal Council insisted on the need to give special attention to rural areas. “Rural areas are not a museum! Rural areas should unlock their potential using modern technologies and smart approaches. Digital transformation can bring services, jobs, education and public administration straight to the living rooms of people and, as a result, make rural areas much more attractive place to live for all generations, including the young people. We should create stimulating conditions for young entrepreneurs and innovation of local businesses, including famers.” Sršeň said that through targeted policies, better funding and right tools, trends of an aging population, brain drain and growing gaps in living standards can be addressed. He stressed the need to engage people more in the local development through bottom up, place based and integrated approaches like LEADER/CLLD. Here he reiterated the recommendation of the European Committee of the Regions for mandatory earmarking of 8% from all ESI funds and EAFRD for CLLD.
Vanessa Charbonneau, Vice-president of Pays de la Loire said “Rural areas have demonstrated their capacity for innovation and the worth of the services they provide but they need to be able to experiment. To that end, they have to be better supported in their experiments including on a small scale”.
Aires Pereira, Mayor of Póvoa de Varzim said that his municipality relies economically on the agricultural sector, rural development and territorial cohesion. “The majority of our farming operations are family-based and this dimension demands more support and financing. Our farmers are resilient and innovative but they cannot find answers and solutions alone. They need direct help, from national government and the European Union”. He added that through this help farmer could maximize the sustainability of their greenhouses and production and give more value to local traditional products. Pereira said that Póvoa de Varzim was currently working on the development of an e-commerce tool: a marketplace that will integrate all enterprises of Póvoa de Varzim and give them an opportunity to recover and adapt their business models to the COVID-19 challenges.
László Majthényi, Member of Vas Megye County Council called for the revitalization of rural traditions “I believe that for all our futures it’s important to reconstruct, relearn and reteach the traditional rural activities which have been destroyed by urbanization.”
Gustaw Marek Brzezin, President of Warmińsko-Mazurskie Region spoke about the resilience of rural communities “It is impressive how the inhabitants of the rural areas are developing their local communities. In this difficult pandemic situation, limiting the second pillar of the CAP may undo what together with the European Commission we have achieved in rural areas.”
Agnès Rampal, Deputy Mayor of Nice called for more flexibility to adjust to the challenging times “In these times of strong economic turmoil on the markets due to Covid-19, an ambitious and flexible CAP is essential for a sustainable economic recovery and resilience as well as for maintaining rural populations in our regional territories.”