Positive steps for the introduction of depopulation in European policies

Positive steps for the introduction of depopulation in European policies

The Network of Southern Sparsely Populated Areas (SSPA) highlights a change of position in European organizations regarding the demographic challenge, and observe a greater sensitivity in the European Union with the issue of depopulation. They consider these changes very important so that specific policies are included and specifically taken into account in the new Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, to address this great problem in which they work, showing their seriousness and the need to deal with it in a global way and effective.

The entity warns that some steps are being taken so that depopulation is included in the next financial framework and in this regard it is directing all its efforts so that the next 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework will face the Demographic Challenge and be one of the political priorities they face, so that both areas with serious permanent problems and other depopulated territories are taken into account.

Current situation

According to the proposal of the European Commission last year on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, where the European Union specifies in figures the political priorities that its citizens and their leaders want, in principle, did not include the Demographic Challenge.

But the SSPA Network reports that to this first Commission proposal, contributions were made both by the Committee of the Regions, as well as earlier this year by the European Parliament, incorporating different amendments in the Commission proposal, such as the need to allocate a minimum percentage of ERDF resources to intervene in areas with natural, geographical or demographic disadvantages, as well as specific aid to areas that have an evident continued loss of population. Another series of amendments promoted the incorporation into the partnership agreement of an integrated approach to address demographic challenges in the regions or the specific needs of regions and areas, when necessary, as well as the drafting by Member States of programs for Implementation of the Funds that take into account an integrated approach to address demographic challenges.

Training of technicians in the European Commission

The SSPA Network during the month of September, requested by the Directorate General of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Commission, presented the situation that It affects sparsely populated provinces to the European technicians of this Department, as well as others such as Regional Development and Employment. As well as the general characteristics of the depopulation that many territories in Europe are experiencing, and especially the situation that affects many territories. They were able to highlight their strengths and weaknesses, such as the loss of population and the lack of communication infrastructure, both physical and digital.

New Vice Presidency of Democracy and Demography

Similarly, the creation of a vice-presidency in charge of Democracy and Demography stands out as one of the novelties, being the first time that the European Commission will be specifically responsible for addressing the demographic challenge. This portfolio is planned to be led by the Croatian, Dubravka Suica, among its objectives is to face the demographic challenge. During the first six months of its mandate, it must publish a report that analyzes the impact of demographic changes in the different groups of society and the consequences in the most affected regions. It must also work together with States and regions on how to improve services and infrastructure in places with demographic challenges.

Intergroup and Europarliamentarians

The new Intergroup of the European Parliament on sparsely populated, mountainous and remote rural areas, RUMRA and Smart Territories, aims to bring the voice of rural communities to the European Parliament, promoting initiatives in rural development of these areas with a transversal vision. It is made up of members of Europe, especially concerned about this issue, and entities related to the rural environment in Europe, among which is the SSPA Network.

It is increasingly clear that everyone agrees on the need to act urgently in the face of this great problem, and meanwhile the SSPA Network continues to develop a serious and documented work that has led it to be a recognized entity, assiduously participating in forums and events where the situation of the European rural environment is faced, and generating a close collaboration with representatives and organizations from other unpopulated areas of Europe.

SSPA network allied with the Sustainable Development Goals

SSPA network allied with the Sustainable Development Goals

Four years ago, 193 countries committed ourselves to the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations. The SSPA Network joins the #ODSéate digital campaign launched by the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda to promote the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs form an action plan that seeks equal opportunities between people, the protection of the planet and the generation of prosperity in a world in peace that works in partnership to overcome the challenges we face.

The SSPA Network was born with the fundamental objective of promoting specific policies and measures that contribute to addressing the main structural challenges that, in demographic, economic and social matters, affect the less populated rural regions of Europe. In this regard, through our meetings and documents, we propose measures aimed at fulfilling the SDGs. Specifically, among the different objectives, our work is oriented towards the following objectives and goals:

Goal 8. Decent work and economic growth. Therefore, we focus our proposals on promoting development-oriented policies that support productive activities, the creation of decent jobs, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro and small and medium enterprises. companies, including through access to financial services.

Goal 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure. Without a development of reliable, sustainable, resilient and quality infrastructure, economic development and human well-being cannot be supported. Our special emphasis is on affordable and equitable access for all.

Goal 10. Reduction of inequalities. Our actions are aimed at guaranteeing equal opportunities and reducing inequality of results. These measures include the elimination of discriminatory laws, policies and practices and the promotion of appropriate laws and policies in that regard. A specific proposal is the adoption of fiscal policies, to progressively achieve greater equality of conditions.

Goal 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions. Within our proposals we talk about the need to guarantee the adoption at all levels of inclusive, participatory and representative decisions that meet the needs.

Goal 17. Partnerships to achieve the objectives. From the Network, we promote our measures in collaboration with all public administrations and the main socio-economic actors in the territory. In addition to proposing approaches oriented not only to sparsely populated territories, but to the whole of the depopulated rural, remote and mountain territories throughout Europe.

The SSPA Network supports the Revolt of Emptied Spain and considers social mobilization as key in the fight against depopulation

The SSPA Network supports the Revolt of Emptied Spain and considers social mobilization as key in the fight against depopulation

The Network of sparsely populated areas of southern Europe joins the Platforms that support the Revolt of Emptied Spain, a great social movement that we consider key to face once and for all the great problem of depopulation.

The SSPA Network has been working for more than 3 years with the sole objective of national and European administrations facing the demographic challenge that is very serious in some territories, which lose population year after year.

As a European lobby, formed by the business organizations and LAGs of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, we have been reporting with great rigor and pressing in meetings all the administrations and political representatives to face the depopulation in an effective way, trying that once and for all. for all the cohesion funds of the European Union where they are most needed and to generate a strategy that makes it possible to invest them in a correct way to achieve the goal of slowing down and reversing the loss of population.

That this social movement was born in Soria and Teruel with its citizen platforms, Teruel Existe and Soria YA !, is something that does not surprise us, because the situation of these provinces that are part of the Network is dramatic in a global way and they need The problem is addressed in an urgent way because they are constantly losing population. The situation in the province of Cuenca is similar, but they do not have strong citizen platforms and with a route to face this mobilization, even so, there are several citizen entities there that support it.

We consider that the Revolt of Emptied Spain  as a great social movement is fundamental to complement this work of pressure that has been taking place for years, to sensitize consciences and propose solutions, and above all so that it gives once for all administrations to see what is urgent and essential to face this imbalance with a State Plan endowed with financing and with an effective and consensual strategy.

Many of the members of the SSPA Network have joined, they have also sponsored buses, and will be on March 31 at the Madrid’s demonstration, because the future of the provinces considered sparsely populated areas of Europe, having 12.5 inhabitants per kilometer square at the provincial level, is at stake. We hope that the closeness of national, European and regional elections, added to the visualization of the great imbalance and the dramatic situation of many territories, will make depopulation finally one of the main points in the electoral programs of all political formations.

We congratulate the citizen platforms Teruel Existe and Soria Ya, and all those who support them, because they are giving an example of union and solidarity, and we share with them all their demands that are concrete and can be assumed by the administrations.

Depopulated areas may be one step closer to European funds

Depopulated areas may be one step closer to European funds

The European Network of SSPA is very aware of the votes that will be held in the European Parliament next week, because according to them now it is possible to take another big step that modifies European policies by integrating depopulated areas into European policies and endowing them with funds.

In January, the Regional Development Commission within the European Parliament debated and voted on the amendments to the common provisions that incorporate different references to depopulation, taking the decision on which ones were incorporated into the document on the future EU policy that goes to define the funds and concrete policies to combat depopulation. The SSPA Network, formed by the business organizations and LAGs of Soria, Cuenca, Teruel, previously made an analysis of the amendments (you can consult their report at http://sspa-network.eu/) and met with several MEPs and with the Vice President of the European Parliament to convey to them the importance of these amendments addressing the great problem of the most unpopulated areas of Europe.

Following the European Parliament’s rejection in February of the explicit incorporation of the problem of depopulation in the approval of the Regulation of Common Provisions of European funds for the period 2021-2025, several amendments to the Regulation of the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund approved by the Committee on Regional Policy of the European Parliament have managed to reach the plenary agenda and will be voted this week in Strasbourg.

The SSPA Network already transmitted at that time that only one step had been taken and there was still a long way to go, and now it is very aware of how the voting in the European Parliament will take place, now they convey their satisfaction for this achievement, but at the same time it warns “If on Wednesday at least the main amendments are approved, there is still a long negotiation process ahead with the European Commission and the Council that could be modified with what has been achieved.”

This network of sparsely populated areas of Southern Europe has studied the amendments that have been passed to the Plenary of Strasbourg and are important for depopulated territories, highlighting some of them and assessing them in a press release. There are amendments proposing that the ERDF should pay more specific attention to demographic change as a fundamental challenge and a priority area in the design and implementation of programs, suggest that at least 5% of the ERDF resources available at national level in the framework of the investment objective in employment and growth, will be assigned to integrated territorial development in non-urban areas that suffer natural, geographic or demographic disadvantages, or that have difficulties accessing basic services.

In addition, they introduce an important precedent by providing content to the definition of the concept “areas with serious or permanent natural or demographic disadvantages” of art. 174 which has limited its effects to the outermost regions, to the sparsely populated areas of Scandinavia and little else, adding the provincial level and the loss of population.
The SSPA Network values ​​these amendments positively, but is concerned that the most important of these is confusing, since according to statements by its coordinator Sara Bianchi “it does not adequately discriminate the different types and degrees of the demographic problem, and proposes a statistical definition of disadvantage. This is a serious and permanent demographic so lax that it barely helps to distinguish the territories that have serious problems from those that do not, and if this is the case, European policies will continue to confront the problem of the unpopulated areas of Europe. ”

The coordinator of the Network SSPA has stressed that “if the bulk of these amendments are approved, it will set a precedent in the long struggle to make European funds and policies effective in the fight against depopulation. A precedent that, without a doubt, should be improved in the future through legislative development and in practice of its effective application that should accompany it in the Member States and in future European policies. “