- considers that a combined strategy of energy and digital transition in rural areas has not received the level of attention and support that one would expect. The most vulnerable rural areas need special attention so that no one is left behind;
- is convinced that the future success of Europe will largely depend on how we deal with rural areas in a way that is in balance with urban areas;
- stresses that for EU or national recovery and resilience plans to benefit fully from the contribution of rural areas, it is imperative that high-speed internet connectivity is ensured in the whole territory, including sparsely populated zones;
- considers that government authorities and service providers need to develop user-friendly applications specifically adapted to the realities of rural lifestyles and activities. The application of these technologies will for example reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture (precision farming) and help improve the accessibility of remote areas (drones);
- stresses that rural users of different ages must be provided with the possibilities for appropriate training and upskilling to use this new digital technology. The inclusivity in less-favoured areas must also enable access to the required devices, either through shared use or through a state subsidy for their purchase;
- concludes that the deployment of digital technologies in rural areas is necessary to support the energy transition;
- emphasises that, with 30% of the EU population living in rural areas, a just rural energy transition is a key element in the just transition to a climate-neutral, sustainable and prosperous European Union, in line with the Territorial Agenda 2030.
- The Commission has proposed that an investment of 20% of NextGenerationEU will be in digital. The EESC recommends that all Member States devote at least 10% of these funds to rural digital without imposing undue bureaucracy.