Home 9 EU institutions 9 The long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas: key achievements and ways forward 

The long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas: key achievements and ways forward 

Apr 4, 2024 | EU institutions, News

On March 27, 2024, the European Commission unveiled its report stocktaking on the EU’s Long-term Vision for Rural Areas. This report marks a significant milestone and serves as a compass for the Commission’s – and in particular DG AGRI – guiding discussions toward shaping policies for the post-2027 programming period. 

Divided into three pivotal chapters, the report unfolds with a detailed overview of new indicators and the latest data pertaining to rural areas. It then delves into a retrospective analysis of the 30-month journey of implementing the rural vision, synthesising insights gleaned from the stocktaking exercise conducted previously. The subsequent chapter outlines prospective pathways for the EU rural action plan and the rural pact, presenting an array of ideas and questions sourced from various EU institutions and stakeholders. 

A stocktake on rural data and rural proofing 

As the report explains, the European Commission has significantly improved rural data and statistics, yielding pivotal outcomes for informed policymaking. Initiatives such as the publication “Rural Europe” and the expansion of datasets, have enabled more granular analyses of population trends and socio-economic dynamics. Moreover, the proposal for a new Regulation on European Statistics on population and housing addresses statistical gaps in rural areas, emphasising the collection of crucial data such as intra-regional migration patterns. The Commission’s efforts also extend to the development of pan-European geospatial datasets, focusing on themes like access to services. The launch of the EU rural observatory in 2022 provides policymakers with a valuable data platform to understand rural performance across various dimensions, while the development of a methodology to delineate functional rural areas enhances analysis and comparability. These initiatives underscore the Commission’s dedication to fostering informed decision-making and collaboration in rural development efforts. 

Digital transformation of rural areas 

Emphasising the importance of overcoming the digital divide in Europe, the report underscores the necessity to improve digital connectivity and enhance digital skills in EU rural areas. Regarding actionable initiatives for connected rural areas, the Commission pledges to advance the regulatory framework to encourage investments in digital infrastructure. Furthermore, it reaffirms its commitment to supporting innovation in digital transformation across vital sectors for rural economies, such as agriculture. 

Why is this report relevant? 

As the EU gears up for the post-2027 programming period, this report sets the stage for informed discourse and strategic planning, paving the way for a future where rural communities thrive amidst evolving landscapes. With the European elections on the horizon in June 2024, the opportunities for dialogue and collaboration are ripe, promising collective endeavors towards realising the Long-Term Vision for the EU’s rural areas. 

On April 12, the European Commission will present the 9th Cohesion Report, outlining the future of EU Cohesion Policy under DG REGIO and DG EMPL. This report, along with other forthcoming priorities, will be a significant focus for the new Commission. These priorities will be further detailed in July, with comprehensive plans expected in September and October, leading to the introduction of post-2027 legislation in Spring 2025. 

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