Janusz Wojciechowski, the European Commissioner for Agriculture, has set out to ensure that the EU agriculture sector is modern and sustainable, adapting to changes in climate, demographics, and technology.
The European Commission has now proposed a long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas, which includes a new Rural Pact and Rural Action Plan, as part of its strategy to achieve this.
The Rural Pact will bring together players at the EU, national, regional, and local levels to support common goals, foster economic, social, and territorial cohesion and react to rural communities’ needs.
The Rural Action Plan will promote rural development that is long-term, cohesive, and integrated. This Action Plan will be supported by the existing Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Cohesion Policy.
By focusing on empowering rural populations, enhancing access to services, and fostering social innovation, they hope to make rural areas stronger.
By strengthening connectedness in terms of transportation and digital access, we may become more connected.
Resilient by conserving natural resources and greening agricultural practices to combat climate change, as well as guaranteeing social resilience by providing access to training courses and a varied range of high-quality work possibilities.
By diversifying economic activities and increasing the value-added of agricultural and agri-food enterprises, as well as agri-tourism, the country will prosper.
Despite the economic benefits of farming and agritourism, rural areas are home to 137 million people, accounting for about 30% of the EU’s population. However, a public consultation indicated that nearly 40% of respondents felt left behind by society and policymakers.
Furthermore, infrastructure is the most pressing issue for rural areas, according to 50% of respondents, and access to essential services and utilities, such as water and electricity, as well as banks and post offices, is an urgent demand for 43% of respondents. 93% feel that the appeal of rural areas will be determined by the availability of digital connectivity, 94 percent by basic amenities and e-services, and 92% by farming’s climate and environmental performance.
Rural locations are less appealing to younger people due to insufficient connectivity, underdeveloped infrastructure, and a lack of various career opportunities. The long-term goal aims to address these issues by capitalizing on the rising prospects of digital services and the lessons learned from the COVID-19 epidemic to increase their potential as desirable places to live, work, and start new businesses.
Sustainable food systems have the ability to meet consumer demand for safe, organic farming and local food systems, which will result in more jobs being created.