Towards a holistic strategy on sustainable and equitable rural and urban development - Related Opinions
The European Year of Cultural Heritage is an excellent opportunity to understand how Europe’s rural cultural heritage is a prized asset which needs to be showcased alongside our urban heritage. The EESC opinion on the "Contribution of Europe’s Rural Areas to the 2018 Year of Cultural Heritage" will consider what measures are necessary to ensure sustainability of landscapes, habitats, species and human imprints. It will look at how to ensure initiatives that will add today's creativity to our heritage and improve co-operation between the rural and the urban, not least through promoting rural cultural tourism.
This opinion considers the root causes, the negative impact on rural areas and highlights best initiatives to re-energise communities through the RDP and other support measures.
Rural development is a horizontal issue that affects practically all policy areas.
The EESC welcomes the Cork 2.0 Declaration that offers strong ongoing support for a rural policy at EU level. The EESC sees itself as a natural partner when it comes to implementing the declaration, and requests that the Commission continue producing progress reports on said implementation.
Rural regions in the EU are not homogeneous and situations vary between and within Member States. These differences mean there is a need for focus and a strategic approach when using available EU funds. This must be based most importantly on initiatives from those living in rural areas.
In several Eastern and Southern EU countries there is a steady flow of young people leaving their hometowns to find work in distant cities. This is a worrisome trend. An ever-increasing global food demand will require in the near future that all agricultural surfaces be cultivated.
To abandon large production areas is a luxury that the EU cannot afford. In order to attach young workers to their rural territories, or to bring them back if they are already gone, the availability of good job opportunities is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one. Education and health services, ICT links, even cultural activities have to reach a minimum level that makes living in these places not only acceptable but indeed attractive.