Mar 31, 2022
The Network of Sparsely Populated Areas of Southern Europe has participated in the meeting of the rural revitalization group organized by the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) to transmit first-hand the needs and expectations of the depopulated provinces.
Brussels, March 31, 2022. The SSPA Network – founded by CEOE CEPYME Cuenca, FOES and CEOE Teruel – has shared its vision with the European Network for Rural Development in order to show the needs and expectations of the sparsely populated provinces of the southern Europe, visualizing in turn its work and its collaboration with other actors to reverse this situation.
This invitation is part of the vision for rural areas for 2040 that the European Commission presented in June 2021 and that proposes a series of actions, flagship initiatives and tools with the ambition of promoting the revitalization of rural areas, including the creation of a Rural Revitalization Platform which should be a one-stop shop for rural communities, project owners and authorities to collaborate.
In this sense, and to help shape the future platform, the ENRD has invited the SSPA Network and other actors from European rural territories to participate in the debate, share their visions and opinions on what this tool should include to support the design of rural revitalization policies.
During the intervention, way of working, collaborating with other actors in the territory were the main aspects, as well as the work carried out in recent years in different areas: state aid, Map 174 presented in 2020 and different projects in which it is working on behalf of the business confederations of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, especially in terms of solutions to the employment needs of companies in these provinces. The coordinator of the SSPA Network, Sara Bianchi, has highlighted the need to address rural revitalization in a comprehensive manner, involving citizens and the actors of the territory who best know their needs and problems. She has also insisted on the need for a tool that facilitates citizens’ access to European information and that unifies the possibilities of European financing.
Thanks to the interventions of experts such as the Network of Sparsely Populated Areas of Southern Europe, the members of the ENCR have begun a reflection on the future Rural Dynamization Platform, as well as the key elements and characteristics to revitalize the areas affected by the loss population, aging and lack of economic opportunities.
Mar 8, 2022
The Business Confederations of Cuenca and Teruel have been accredited within the framework of the new Erasmus+ Program so that seven Vocational Training Institutes from the two provinces can work on a joint plan and organize mobility activities abroad.
Cuenca and Teruel, March 8, 2022. The Confederations of Entrepreneurs of Cuenca and Teruel have just achieved the KA120 accreditation for coordinators of mobility consortia in the field of Vocational Training for the new Erasmus + program, granted by the Spanish Service for Internationalization of Education (SEPIE), belonging to the Ministry of Universities.
This accreditation will allow the students and teachers of these centers to participate in European educational projects through stays or exchanges between 2022 and 2027. Thus, the students will be able to develop their linguistic competence and learn about the culture of other countries while the teaching staff will come into contact with other work methodologies that improve the quality of teaching.
The granting of the Erasmus+ Accreditation for the students of these institutes entails broadening their horizons of academic and personal training through stays and exchanges abroad, a possibility that is often excluded for centers located in unpopulated provinces.
The institutes may offer the opportunity for professional and personal development to students, professors and other educational personnel with activities that are competitive and attractive. For accredited organizations, this opportunity is key for the development of the territory and for the future of education in these provinces, since the exchange of educational experiences concludes in the adoption of good practices that improve the day-to-day reality of the centers participants.
7 educational centers in the provinces of Cuenca and Teruel are part of the consortium promoted by the CEOE.
CIFP BAJO ARAGÓN – Alcañiz (Teruel)
CPIFP ESCUELA DE HOSTELERIA Y TURISMO TERUEL – Teruel
I.E.S. LA HONTANILLA – Tarancón (Cuenca)
IES FERNANDO LÁZARO CARRETE – Utrillas (Teruel)
IES FRANCÉS DE ARANDA – Teruel
IES JORGE MANRIQUE – Motilla del Palancar (Cuenca) IES PEDRO MERCEDES – Cuenca
Dec 9, 2021
This comparison in the regulation with the uninhabited territories of northern Europe, represents another very important step by the European Commission in favor of Soria, Cuenca and Teruel because with it, from the community legality, the commitment of Europe in the application is reinforced of operating aids
Cuenca, Soria, Teruel, December 9, 2021. FOES, CEOE CEPYME Cuenca and CEOE Teruel celebrate that their intense lobbying work continues to yield results, after learning that the proposal for the new aid exemption regulation submitted for public consultation by the of the European Commission includes the consideration of the three Spanish provinces as “very sparsely populated areas”, which would represent their definitive comparison with the most sparsely populated territories of Sweden, Finland and Norway and would reinforce their condition as provinces that benefit from operating aid.
To achieve this important advance, the employers’ associations of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel have presented to the European Commission contributions to the public consultation regarding the revision of Regulation (EU) 651/2014 in order to reinforce the new wording of article 15, section 3 , which definitively eliminates the differences in the current legal regime between “sparsely populated areas” and “very sparsely populated areas”.
“Shield” operating aids
This modification guarantees that both Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, as well as the rest of the European NUTS3 that show densities below 12.5 inhabitants/km2, reinforce their status in matters such as the receipt of operating aid aimed at reducing the current expenses of their business fabric, since the equalization of both categories in the future regulation would be an additional guarantee in the face of hypothetical changes from 2027 in the state aid guidelines for regional purposes, reaffirming the maintenance of operating aid from that date.
If the new wording of the regulation is confirmed, the three business organizations will complete a two-year period of joint work with the regional governments of Aragón, Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León, a public-private alliance that has resulted in recognition in the highest community instances of the depopulation that affects the rural territories of Southern Europe as one of its priorities in terms of territorial cohesion.
Demographics of “sparsely populated areas” and “very sparsely populated areas”
The contributions sent by the SSPA Network focus on demonstrating, based on statistical data and rigorous legal arguments, that the three Spanish provinces suffer demographic disadvantages as severe and prolonged over time as those suffered by the hitherto “very little populated” of the Nordic countries, thus following the line of work that the business lobby has been maintaining since its creation almost 10 years ago.
According to data from 2018, the provinces of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel showed, respectively, a population density of just 11.7, 8.7 and 9 inhabitants/km2, resulting not only in the three least densely populated provinces in Spain, but also ratios of population even lower than those of seven Nordic regions:
• Pohjois-Karjala (Finland): 9.2 inhabitants/km2
• Etelä-Savo (Finland): 10.2 inhabitants/km2
• Dalarnas län (Sweden): 10.2 inhabitants/km2
• Pohjois-Pohjanmaa (Finland): 11.2 inhabitants/km2
• Västernorrlands län (Sweden): 11.4 inhabitants/km2
• Keski-Pohjanmaa (Finland): 13.7 inhabitants/km2
• Pohjois-Savo (Finland): 14.7 inhabitants/km2
Nov 18, 2021
The European Commission urges the Spanish State to grant aid to companies in Soria, Teruel and Cuenca from 2022 in compliance with the guidelines of the European Commission so that they receive bonuses as sparsely populated areas, in the same way as those located in the Northern Europe (Norway, Finland and Sweden).
Madrid, November 18, 2021. The Spanish Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises (CEPYME) asks the Government to specify the incentives for companies to curb depopulation, contained in the General State Budget for 2022 in the corresponding Additional Provision. In this way, the Confederation joins the demands of the business organizations of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel so that the aid that the European Commission has recognized for companies in these areas for being sparsely populated is applied as soon as possible.
At the press conference held this morning, the presidents of CEPYME, Gerardo Cuerva, of the Federation of Business Organizations of Soria (FOES), Santiago Aparicio, of CEOE Teruel, Juan Ciércoles, and of CEOE CEPYME Cuenca, David Peña, presented the serious situation in these regions as a result of depopulation and the need to work to stop this process.
All of them have coincided in emphasizing that companies are a fundamental actor in successfully settling the population in the territory with expectations. Likewise, they consider that compensating for the competitive disadvantage that companies from these three provinces currently present is crucial to achieve this, since it will strengthen the resistance of companies located in disadvantaged areas and will act as a catalyst for new investments, also forming a competitive opportunity for our country, since it would place these Spanish provinces in a similar situation to other 18 territories of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Greece, Croatia and Latvia that have this competitive advantage.
After long and intense work by the business organizations mentioned, supported by the Regional Governments, the provinces of Soria, Teruel and Cuenca have been recognized by the European Commission as sparsely populated areas, presenting a population density of less than 12.5 Inhabitants per square kilometer. This has meant that in the revision of the State aid Guidelines for regional purposes, these areas are considered as disadvantaged areas, which, in turn, allows the granting of discounts to companies located in said provinces up to a maximum of 20%. of their labor costs.
To achieve this recognition, in addition to proving that these territories have serious demographic disadvantages, in their allegations they have proven that the fact of receiving this aid does not imply competition for the rest of the companies in the country, since they have a very limited productive fabric that it only accounts for 0.83% of the national GDP and 0.85% of all companies in Spain.
Both CEPYME and the provincial organizations point out that these discounts are an opportunity for the country as a whole, since operating aid is only applicable in very specific areas of Europe and it would not be understandable for Spain to miss out on this important competitive advantage, which is a tool extraordinary to attract investments and companies that, otherwise, will end up establishing themselves in other European territories.
The SSPA Network
CEOE Teruel, FOES and CEOE CEPYME Cuenca have worked intensively together until the European Commission recognized the serious demographic problem of these Spanish provinces and included them in the Provincial State Aid Guidelines.
For this, the three business organizations founded the network of Sparsely Populated Areas of Southern Europe (in English Southern Sparsely Populated Areas, SSPA), whose main objective is to make sparsely populated territories attractive territories in which to live, work, invest and grow , ensuring the future of these areas.
Nov 5, 2021
The presidents of the provincial councils and business organizations of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel are committed to the digital and sustainable transformation of the three provinces
Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, November 5, 2021. The Provincial Councils of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel and CEOE CEPYME Cuenca, FOES and CEOE Teruel maintain close collaboration in the field of depopulation, and are currently aligned on the importance of promote the three provinces, as territories in which to implement an Innovation Hub that helps existing companies and also facilitates the arrival of others, as well as startups.
This objective is channeled in the 5 For Rural Project, in which the three business organizations have been working for some time on its development, concretion and in the search for the necessary support to be able to implement it in a coordinated and successful manner in the 3 territories. This project fully fits into the objectives of the Recovery Plan, especially with regard to “leaving no territory behind”, and more specifically in the lines of work of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge ( MITECO).
The commitment to the Innovation HUB has been the main issue addressed in a face-to-face meeting in which, together with the president of the Soria Provincial Council and the president of FOES, the presidents of the Cuenca and Teruel Provincial Councils, and representatives of the CEOEs of these provinces. The president of FOES, Santiago Aparicio, added that “an innovation HUB for sparsely populated provinces is a tool that helps provide answers to the challenges and problems that these areas face, promote a resilient ecosystem and generate impact positive economic and social development in the territory”.
A year of work on the design of the ‘5 for rural’
A year ago, in November 2020, the business confederations of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel presented the ‘5 for rural’ project to the national organization of CEOE, which included it in one of the 21 Strategic Initiatives of the country for the recovery and transformation of the Spanish economy that he presented to the Government of Spain.
With the inclusion of the project in the portfolio of initiatives presented to the Executive, the road has only just begun. In the first half of 2021, the three business organizations have transferred the content of the project to different institutions, so that they can learn about it and even enrich it with their contributions. In fact, the presidents of the three provincial councils of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel were the first to know about it and decided to support it and collaborate with the CEOE for its development. In addition, the representatives of the autonomous communities of Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León and Aragón, the Ministries of Science and Innovation, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, as well as the Secretariat of the Demographic Challenge.
FOES, CEOE Teruel, CEOE CEPYME Cuenca and the Provincial Councils aspire for the three provinces to become smart territories, to enable the generation of new business and employment opportunities for young people, as well as for new settlers and in general to boost economic activity of the three provinces.
Oct 15, 2021
Positive assessment of the CEOE of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, although this is not necessarily synonymous with putting into practice
Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, October 15, 2021. CEOE CEPYME Cuenca, FOES and CEOE-CEPYME Teruel make a positive assessment that in the one hundred and fifteenth additional provision of the project of the General State Budgets (PGE) for the next year 2022 include regional state aid for the provinces of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel within the framework established at European level. The PGE project states that the Government “will establish the ways to make the most of the existing aid possibilities for areas with a very low population density, specifically those with a population density of less than 12.5 inhabitants per square kilometer ”.
This step follows the path started by the lobby of the companies in Cuenca, Soria and Teruel with the presentation in 2019 of the report on ‘A differentiated taxation for the progress of depopulated territories in Spain’ where the cost and the return to the public coffers that the different fiscal measures available could entail, as well as their contribution in correcting the territorial imbalances caused by depopulation.
In September 2020, another fundamental step was taken with the presentation by business organizations and the Autonomous Communities of the allegations to the draft of the State Aid Guidelines planned for the period 2022-2027. In the case of the three CEOE, its content was based on presenting a demographic diagnosis of the three provinces, followed by an analysis of its economic structure and business fabric. This evidenced, on the one hand, the existing demographic similarities with the Scandinavian regions and, on the other, that the application of these aids would not affect the principles of competition and free markets at a national or European level. The European Commission included these allegations in the final text of the Guidelines on state aid for regional purposes, recognizing the provinces of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel among the territories likely to benefit from aid intended for companies in order to compensate for the competitive disadvantages that causes depopulation.
Thanks to the joint effort developed by the SSPA Network and its respective Autonomous Communities, recognition has been achieved by the community authorities and now also by the Spanish ones. Although the businessmen remember that the fact that they have been included in the budgets is not synonymous with their being put into operation, and therefore it is necessary to continue working to make this possibility effective, and for this reason they will follow the steps in the negotiations of the budgets and they will request a new meeting with the political and technical leaders of the Ministry of Finance, since the details of their practical application remain to be specified in the shortest possible time and to urge their immediate implementation because they are essential to avoid progressive depopulation of these territories.
For the CEOE it is important that the formula chosen by the government to apply this aid is as effective as possible, for this reason it is necessary to apply the maximum percentage allowed by Europe, that is, 20%, in the formula for a reduction in labor costs .
The reduction of labor costs of companies is an instrument that has been applied by the Norwegian government since 1975, whose objective is to increase employment in the most socioeconomically vulnerable regions, improving their competitiveness and increasing their market share. This increase in competitiveness translates not only into the creation of more employment, but also of better employment with the increase in wages, thanks to its transposition to collective bargaining. The results of this policy can be seen reflected in the population growth of more than 5% in the regions considered “very sparsely populated” during the last decade.
The operating aid could have another form, for example, subsidies to reduce the current expenses of the companies, that is to say a positive benefit instead of the reduction of a burden (as would be the case of the Social Security bonus). After knowing the draft of the PGE we can say that the first cannot be the formula to apply, since if it were, it should have included the necessary item to pay for these subsidies to companies. In the case of the reduction of labor costs via a bonus to Social Security contributions, we understand that what is proposed is a lower income for the State, which is why there is no item in the PGE.
Sep 23, 2021
The platform will serve as a meeting point for all those people who feel linked professionally or personally to the three provinces and who, for different reasons, have been developing their professional careers outside these areas.
Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, September 23, 2021. The CEOE-CEPYME Cuenca, FOES and CEOE-CEPYME Teruel are in the initial phase of developing a web platform to identify and geographically locate professionals from all fields and sectors , who feel linked to the three provinces.
The active population of the three provinces as a whole, in 2018, represented only 0.9% of the total of the national group. In the year 2020, this percentage drops to 0.87% of the total Spanish active population, when on the contrary the active population of the national group in that period has increased. The decrease in the data on the active population of these provinces is not the only element of concern, in fact, although Cuenca, Soria and Teruel are characterized by a high level of education compared to the national set, young people tend to be forced to study and work outside these territories. The consequent loss of human capital translates in turn into a loss of talent, even more so when the desired return rarely occurs.
With these data, the CEOEs have decided to promote the creation of this new tool: “SSPA Network Platform for business talent”, for which they have the collaboration of the Provincial Councils of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel.
Contracting for the design and development of the platform is open to companies associated with the three business associations that carry out their activity in the field of computer programming and web design. The award of the service, which will be carried out in the coming weeks, will allow the platform to be active before the end of this year.
The aspiration of the business organizations is that, thanks to this tool, it further strengthens the link between all those people related to the three provinces who reside and carry out their professional activity abroad, effectively favors the return of talent to the companies of the three territories and serve as a bridge to attract investment to the three provinces.
Sep 17, 2021
“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.
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.
Jun 15, 2021
The presidents of the provincial councils and business organizations of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel have signed a collaboration agreement at a key moment for the future of the three provinces
Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, June 15, 2021. The Provincial Councils of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel have signed an agreement with CEOE CEPYME Cuenca, FOES and CEOE Teruel by which the provincial administrations support the different works that the provincial organizations have been carrying out in the framework of the European lobby of the SSPA Network to fight against depopulation.
Since 2014, the CEOEs have been working proactively at a national and European level in order to promote measures that help tackle the main structural challenges that affect sparsely populated areas of Spain. The results of this work are beginning to be visible, such as the possibility that has been opened, thanks to the joint work of the three CEOEs and the Autonomous Governments, to obtain state aid for the operation of the companies of the three provinces. But it is necessary to continue advancing in the realization of achievements in the face of depopulation.
Along these lines, this significant agreement implies that business organizations and Provincial Councils from different regions unite their efforts and approaches in order to defend the differential elements of the three provinces, as sparsely populated areas, at a decisive moment to achieve the goals set.
The agreement was signed by the president of the Diputación de Cuenca, Álvaro Martínez Chana, the president of CEOE CEPYME Cuenca, David Peña, the president of CEOE Teruel, Juan Ciércoles, the president of the Diputación de Teruel, Manuel Rando, the president of FOES, Santiago Aparicio and the president of the Diputación de Soria, Benito Serrano.
The president of CEOE CEPYME Cuenca, David Peña, has indicated that “the problem of depopulation has affected the three provinces and therefore part of the solutions also have to come from the provinces themselves, which is why an agreement such as the that we captured this morning in Cuenca. I would like to point out that what we do at the CEOE to fight against depopulation and that the councils support, are not just demands, but rather it is about justifying more measures to support our territories with reports, works, studies and content that serve to achieve our goals.”
For his part, the president of the Cuenca Provincial Council, Álvaro Martínez Chana, has positively assessed that this agreement is made from the province of Cuenca with the aim of “fighting for our people from unity”, the Cuenca leader has stated that today begins a long road that others will continue, but which represents a victory, since “it gives visibility to the demographic challenge that is already on the European, national and regional agenda”. Martínez Chana ended his speech with a true declaration of intent stating that the fight must be from the bottom up and that “the time for words has passed, it is the time for action”.
The president of CEOE CEPYME Teruel Juan Andrés Ciércoles Bielsa has indicated that “we are closer to achieving what would be a historic event and undoubtedly beneficial for the three provinces, that is, getting them to receive State aid, but we still have a lot to do and the current moment is crucial, because the future of our provinces will depend on what we do today”.
For his part, the president of the Diputación de Teruel, Manuel Rando López, has pointed out that the SSPA Network “is proving to be very useful, especially after the good results of its work to recognize the right to have differentiated taxation”. For the president of the Teruel provincial institution, “having the help of professionals who are well versed in European legislation and how the decision-making processes that are taken from Brussels are extremely important for political action. We still have many challenges to face, the battle against depopulation is a long-distance race and the SSPA Network is a great ally. That is why this signature is important, always appealing to inter-institutional cooperation and public-private collaboration, which is how things work best”.
For his part, the president of FOES, Santiago Aparicio, pointed out that “the three provincial organizations are going to continue fighting for our companies and for the economic growth of Soria, Cuenca and Teruel and we are very sincerely grateful that in this long-term battle we can count on with the support and backing of our reference councils”.
For his part, the president of the Diputación de Soria, Benito Serrano, highlighted the importance of uniting the efforts of the three most depopulated provinces to complete the step taken in Europe to achieve differentiated taxation that materializes the National Government as soon as possible and finally benefits companies from Soria for their growth or new ones for their installation. “Private initiative must boost the economy, but always with the support of public authorities, which with means such as the one adapted by Europe, will allow provinces such as Soria to regain prominence and provide investment attractiveness.”
Mar 30, 2021
The Southern Sparsely Populated Areas network participated in the event organized by the European Network for Rural Development and the European Commission to address the needs of rural areas from a global perspective, betting on the digital endowment of rural areas so that it be competitive.
The SSPA network shared its work and knowledge within the Rural Vision Week: ‘Imagining the future of rural areas in Europe’ addressing different issues to turn rural areas into sustainable areas, indicating the convenience of betting on the digital endowment of the rural environment as an aspect to ensure a prosperous future.
In fact, for SSPA, technology is a basic pillar to ensure a prosperous future for sparsely populated and rural areas, socially and entrepreneurially, so that they are competitive at a global level, as well as from a vital point of view, since the provision of infrastructure technological represents a minimum service to which all people should have access.
The ‘Rural Vision Week: Imagining the future of Europe’s rural areas’ is an activity organized by the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) together with the European Commission. This event is made up of several presentations and talks with the aim of debating and drawing conclusions on how to build a long-term vision that favors the future of rural areas in Europe. During the week different talks and workshops are being held, where relevant entities and personalities such as the Commissioner for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Suica, as well as different entities and organizations of the territory participate.
On the other hand, the SSPA highlighted other priority elements that must accompany the deployment of digital infrastructure, that is, the importance of providing people in these areas with the necessary training to use the technological tools that the territory needs. In the words of the coordinator of the SSPA Network, Sara Bianchi “if we want to transform rural areas into vibrant areas, we cannot continue applying 20th century solutions, but we have to take advantage of the opportunities of the 21st century, only in this way we can ensure the future from sparsely populated and rural areas ”.
Intergroup RUMRA & Smart Villages
During the European week, the Intergroup on rural, mountainous and remote areas of the European Parliament (Rumra & Smart Villages), of which the SSPA Network is part, and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) influenced the concern that the areas rural areas may be left out of the European Union Recovery Plans. The Intergroup and CoR affirmed that the pandemic is serving to exacerbate many of the already existing problems in rural areas and highlight once again the vulnerability of these regions, especially in terms of digital capacity, quality and delivery of health services, education, access to broadband, specific needs of the population, resilience of supply chains and innovation skills.
These elements have been part of the discourse of the SSPA network during its intervention and constitute the basis of the entity’s work in recent months, in which it is working to include a specific proposal for the territories in the Recovery Plan.