The EESC hearing on 14 February 2017 was an opportunity for all people who were interested in rural issues to meet, present work in progress and exchange ideas and knowledge – and get inspired by examples of successful projects and initiatives in other rural communities. Together we thought of better ways to empower the rural communities to play their full part in addressing vital policy areas such as food security, renewable energy, environmental protection and job creation.
The first Cork Declaration, adopted on 9 November 1996, forthrightly requested "a fairer balance" of public spending and investments between rural and urban areas. In the new Cork 2.0 Declaration adopted on 6 September 2016, there is only one concrete proposal with the potential to have a meaningful impact: the so called "rural proofing" whose aim would be to "systematically review other macro and sectorial policies through a rural lens".
This report provides a study of the retail sector, which is one of the biggest in Europe in terms of the number of enterprises active and individuals employed. The study aims to provide practical insights on revitalising small retailers in urban and rural areas. The underlying objective is achieved through identifying the main trends, challenges and opportunities faced by small retailers, and outlining what types of good practices have been put into place to support these enterprises in city-centres, including highlights on the situation of small retailers located in rural areas.
The EESC "Smart Islands" project is based on the own-initiative of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on Smart islands TEN/558.