“5 times around the world is the path traveled in these eight years, in which the approval of operating aids has been achieved; We hope we don’t have to go around the world another 5 times for the aid to start up”.

Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, September 17, 2021. On September 18, 2013, FOES, CEOE CEPYME Cuenca and CEOE Teruel decided to join forces and work as a lobby to publicize the very serious problem of depopulation suffered by the three provinces, and propose solutions from, by and for the territory, at a time when the lack of population was not considered a central issue.

After 8 years, depopulation has become a priority issue on the European and national scene, and essential messages have permeated that were unthinkable years ago, among others the need for differentiated taxation. But, all this is not by chance, but is the result of joint, continuous and conscientious work, carried out with discretion, professionalism and seriousness.

It has not been an easy road, the CEOEs have worked tirelessly and with absolute transparency, making numerous resources available to the lobby, both financial and personal, to defend the interests of the provinces of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, in the European sphere, national and regional. Public administrations and national and community private entities have positioned themselves as valid and recognized interlocutors before, proposing policies and concrete and applicable proposals, through 35 rigorous documents.

On the other hand, in order to promote the adoption of policies and the allocation of resources to deal with the problems in these areas, more than 500 meetings have been necessary with all the actors involved, informing and establishing strategic alliances. In addition, the confederations have done an important job of raising awareness and disseminating the most appropriate policies and strategies to society as a whole to reverse the processes of depopulation, aging and loss of economic activity that currently affect sparsely populated areas, participating in more than 300 conferences, 150 presentations and making around 200 trips, traveling almost 200,000 km.

5 times around the world in which the CEOEs have won small battles, which have made it possible for the European Commission to approve, in April of this year, that companies located in Cuenca, Soria and Teruel receive operating aid. Undoubtedly, this recognition will mark a before and after in the general economic situation of the three provinces, and in the particular situation of each of the companies that make up the productive fabric of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel. Although, the confederations warn that there is still a long way to go.

Next steps

The current is a vital moment for the 3 provinces, which is why the three business organizations continue to work on different fronts. As mentioned above, the CEOEs continue to work to ensure that the practical application of the operating aid is carried out in the shortest possible time. However, they report that so far they have not found the receptivity in the Spanish government that this important issue requires, and that they are concerned that the passivity they perceive will frustrate the arrival of these aids to companies in the three provinces.
In turn, the business confederations are moving forward to ensure that European funds reach the 3 provinces, with the ‘5 for Rural’ project, whose objective is for the areas affected by depopulation to become smart territories, generating new opportunities business and employment for the population of these areas, young people and new settlers, and promoting economic activity.

To finish, the CEOE will continue to press to change the focus of the legislation, which is usually done with urban centers in mind without thinking about the harmful consequences that its application entails in sparsely populated territories. The objective is to make effective the inclusion of the demographic impact in the regulations and legislation that are approved by the different governments, as is already the case with the environmental or gender impact. All new regulations and public tenders should be “ruralized”, taking into account the particularities of the territory and how these regulations affect less populated and rural territories.

“The operating grants are a unique opportunity for our provinces, and we are concerned that after all the effort made during these 8 years, after all that it has cost to obtain them, they will become another lost opportunity for our provinces. Because our lives depend on it, I take this opportunity to ask all the businessmen, all the institutions, and all the citizens of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel to act as loudspeakers, and call on our political representatives (the locals, the that we have close) to pressure the Government of Spain so that this aid is up and running in January 2022, because I really tell you, that our three provinces, our lives depend on it. Our territories are dying and we cannot wait any longer”, concludes the president of FOES, Santiago Aparicio.