Rural pact and rural action plan

The objective of rural pact and rural action plan is to make our rural areas stronger (empowering rural communities, improving access to services and promoting social innovation), connected (transport & digital), resilient (preserving natural resources, more ecological agricultural activities, access to training programs and quality employment) and prosperous (diversify economic activities and increase the added value of agricultural and agri-food activities) by 2040

Rural areas are unattractive

In Europe, the population of rural areas is on average older than that of urban areas and will start to decline slowly over the next decade. This situation, coupled with insufficient connectivity, underdeveloped infrastructure and the absence of diversified employment opportunities, as well as limited access to services such as public transport, schools, hospitals and shops, contributes to making rural areas less attractive to live and work in.

44%

indicate that infrastructure and transport links are an essential need in rural areas

Nevertheless, rural areas also play an active role in achieving the targets set by the EU for its 2030 digital ambitions. We see new opportunities for the sustainable development of rural areas beyond agriculture, livestock and forestry, as well as a growth in manufacturing and services in order to achieve a better geographical distribution of services and industries.

79%

of EU citizens want the EU to take rural areas into account when deciding on public spending

The rural pact

It is a mobilization of actors at European, national, regional and local levels, to support common objectives, promote economic, social and territorial cohesion and respond to the common aspirations of rural communities. In this respect, the European Commission will have a role of facilitator by mobilizing existing networks and will encourage the exchange of ideas and good practices at all levels.

43%

of respondents also cited as urgent needs access to basic services and amenities, such as water and electricity, as well as banks and post offices

The rural action plan

The objective is to promote sustainable, coherent and integrated rural development. Several EU policies already support rural areas, contributing to their balanced, equitable, ecological and innovative development. These include the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Cohesion Policy, to which will be added several other areas of EU action.

65%

of all EU citizens think that the local territory or province should be able to decide how EU funds for investment in rural areas should be spent

A report will be published in early 2024 identifying areas where more support and funding is needed and outlining the way forward, based on the EU Rural Action Plan. The discussions around the report will feed the reflection on the elaboration of the proposals for the programming period 2028-2034

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