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.