On 31st October, the Bureau of the Committee of the Regions met in Logroño, Spain on the occasion of the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council.
The meeting brought together experts, policymakers, and leaders to exchange best practices and explore innovative strategies and actionable solutions that can protect rural communities against the impacts of climate change, specifically focusing on the agri-food sector.
At the end of the day, the Bureau declared, amongst others, that it:
- launches the idea of a European Year of Rural Europe and a European Smart Villages Award
- commits to play an active role in the Rural Pact and its governance body in order to successfully implement the long-term vision and ensure the proper involvement of local and regional stakeholders;
- commits to further develop and promote a “Regional and Local Vulnerability Scorecard” in partnership with the Joint Research Centre, as a key tool in policy-making. This is essential for rural areas, in order to build their resilience with a focus on climate risks and social vulnerabilities
- calls, therefore, on the Commission, the Member States and local and regional authorities to apply rural proofing to their strategies and investments in the context of the current programming period of the CAP and cohesion funds, the national recovery and resilience plans and other EU programmes; and to consider the vulnerabilities and needs of rural areas as important criteria in their future design.
- calls, in particular, for a multi-fund approach in rural areas and a minimum allocation of EU funds for agricultural and non-agricultural projects in rural areas to be introduced both in the operational programmes of cohesion policy and in other European direct intervention programmes (Horizon Europe, the Connecting Europe Facility and Creative Europe); while strengthening the use and synergies of the LEADER approach to rural development, Smart Villages initiatives and Local Action Groups across funds.