The collaboration agreement has been signed in Soria by the people in charge of the Network of Southern Sparsely Populated Areas to continue the work and the efforts to achieve development in rural areas, in order to reverse the process of depopulation, aging and demographic and economic fragility of these provinces.

SSPA has signed on Monday, September 11, a collaboration agreement between the three business associations that make it up (Confederation of Entrepreneurs of Cuenca-CEOE CEPYME Cuenca, the Federation of Sorian Business Organizations -FOES and the Business Confederation of Teruel-CEOE Teruel) and the three Rural Savings Banks of these Spanish provinces: Globalcaja (Caja Rural de Albacete, Ciudad Real and Cuenca) Caja Rural of Soria and Caja Rural of Teruel.

For his part, the President of CEPYME Cuenca, David Peña, wanted to highlight the existing alliance with the rural savings banks of these three provinces “because they are essential to cover some of the work we are doing to raise European funds”. He explained that “we hope the funds serve to create or attract companies that generate more entrepreneurial dynamics and more activity in the rural financial institutions, which have always been collaborators of entrepreneurs in rural areas.”

The signing ceremony was attended by Carlos Torre, President of Teruel CEOE, who has described this collaboration agreement as “fundamental to be able to continue developing actions with the aim of reversing the process of economic and demographic decline that inevitably extends to Teruel, Cuenca and Soria, the most extremely depopulated areas of Southern Europe”.

At the signing ceremony, it also participated Santiago Aparicio, president of FOES. He wanted to point out that “today is an important day for the work that we are developing from the SSPA”. “The support of the Rural Savings Banks is again an impulse to continue working towards the goal of reversing the depopulation problem of the three provinces, as they have been able to do in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, a benchmark for adaptable success to Soria, Cuenca and Teruel.

The team of SSPA has been working against depopulation with different meetings that have led it to expose the seriousness of this context before the main European and national authorities responsible for the matter, claiming not so much a greater allocation of funds as these are applied in full to those activities that have proven their viability. The actions carried out and to be carried out by these business organizations require a deep involvement and an important provision of resources, both technical and human, thanks to this agreement they will be able to continue carrying out actions to work on the repopulation of these areas, and the provinces of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel will be visualized as a solution to the problems that affect the least densely populated territories.

For Rural Savings Banks, this agreement is a sign of responsibility with the environment and with the citizens of their respective provinces, as the aim is to promote economic activity and the development of their territories.

A year has passed since the signing of the first agreement and the objectives that were marked in it have been fulfilled in their entirety, such as, for example, the creation of the Network of Southern Sparsely Populated Areas (SSPA) and the registration of the same as a lobby in Europe.

The SSPA will continue to take steps and will continue to develop actions to ensure that European territorial cohesion policy and Member States establish instruments and development methods that are effective and successful in the most depopulated and fragile rural areas.

The problem of depopulation is not new, nor it is exclusive to these three Spanish provinces, but the greater severity and need to take urgent measures for Teruel, Soria and Cuenca is well recognized in different documents, including the GEOSPECS report emanated from a request from the European Commission itself; the Association Agreement between Spain and the European Union 2014-2020; the Operational Program of the FEDER of Aragón 2014-2020 and the agreements and pronouncements of institutions such as the Congress of Deputies, the Senate of Spain, the parliaments of Aragón, Castilla y León and Castilla-la Mancha or the Provincial Councils of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel.