From today until May, the 4th, a delegation from the Network of Scarcely Populated Areas of Southern Europe will check on the spot the tools that have generated economic and demographic growth in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland region.
The final objective of the visit will be the elaboration of a document that will serve as a basis to work on the actions that will attract new economic activities as well as greater human capital to Lika (Croatia), Evrytania (Greece) and Cuenca, Soria and Teruel (Spain).
A delegation from the Network of Scarcely Populated Areas of Southern Europe made up of political representation, enterpreneurs and local action groups members from the provinces of Teruel, Cuenca and Soria, as well as from the Croatian region of Lika-Senj and the Greek Evrytania. It is now in Scotland to learn firsthand and study the measures that have taken the region of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to reverse the processes of depopulation that threatened to these territories.
In the area, the Scottish Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will be responsible for showing them the implementation of effective tools to tackle problems such as low population density, aging or serious economic, social and environmental consequences of this situation. Using this approach and practices, this Scottish region has been able to reverse a long process of depopulation and economic neglect by increasing population, rejuvenating it and becoming one of the most innovative and dynamic regions of the European Union.
The program includes meetings, talks and meetings with political, business and social representatives that will show them the role of each entity in the economic and demographic growth of Highlands and Islands.
In addition, visits will also be made to learn about the development of local businesses, the impact and opportunities of digital connectivity and to check the educational measures that have led to this area to retain and attract youthful talent. To conclude, a series of conclusions will be collected on all the contributions made during the visit. The final objective will be the elaboration of a document that will serve as a basis to work on a series of actions that will attract new economic activities as well as greater human capital to Lika (Croatia), Evrytania (Greece) and Cuenca, Soria and Teruel (Spain), adapting them as much as possible to the singularities of each one of them.
This trip is part of the TAIEX program “Peer to Peer” of the General Directorate of Regional Policy of the European Commission, which is intended for the exchange of experiences between public administrations and collaborating entities from different countries of the European Union. The governments of Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Lika-Senj county (Croatia) and the district of Evrytania (Region of Central Greece) have been invited to participate in the project, coordinated by the Department of Territorial Planning of the Government of Aragon, together with representatives of the local leader action groups and entrepreneurs.
The Sparsely Populated Areas of Southern Europe network was born from the union of the Entrepreneurs associations of Teruel (CEOE Teruel), Soria (FOES) and Cuenca (CEOE-CEPYME Cuenca).
The main objective of this network is to create a work group that fights against the depopulation and his consequences in these regions. In fact, these 5 regions are classified in the statistics of the European Unions as sparsely populated area, with their population rates under 12,5 inhabitants per square km.
To this end, the Sparsely Populated Areas of Southern Europe network (SSPA) will work towards legislative and policy measures aimed at reversing the process of depopulation, aging and demographic and economic fragility that threatens these territories.
The five regions set themselves the objective of achieving a different European policy for these sparsely populated areas by 2020.