A delegation from the Network of Scarcely Populated Areas in Southern Europe has verified on the spot the tools that have generated economic and demographic growth in the Scottish Highlands and Islands region.
From now on, they will proceed to the elaboration of a document that will serve as a basis to work on actions that attract new economic activities, as well as greater human capital to Teruel, Cuenca and Soria, and to the most sparsely populated territories of Greece and Croatia.
A very positive experience and good feelings regarding the fight against depopulation. These are the impressions with which returns a delegation from the Network of Scarcely Populated Areas of Southern Europe, made up of political, business and local action groups from the provinces of Teruel, Cuenca and Soria, as well as from the Croatian region of Lika-Senj and the Greek one of Evrytania, who have traveled to Scotland to learn firsthand and study the measures that have led the Highlands and Islands region to reverse the processes of depopulation that threatened to those territories.
In the words of Mr. José Antonio Guillén, an executive member of CEOE Teruel: “Depopulation has a solution. It is necessary to carry out policies based on tested success criteria, such as the Scottish case, with a medium- and long-term horizon. In addition, it has to be a strategy that must be preserved to political changes and confrontations.” For Mr. Guillén “a political, social and business consensus is needed with regard to autonomous management formulas.”
Scottish Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has been in charge showing them the implementation of effective tools to deal with problems such as low population density, aging or serious economic, social and environmental consequences resulting from this situation. With this approach and practices, this Scottish region has been able to reverse a long process of depopulation and economic neglect by increasing population, rejuvenating it and becoming one of the most innovative and dynamic regions of the European Union.
The program has included meetings, talks and meetings with professional, business and social representatives that have shown them the role that each entity has played in the economic and demographic growth of Highlands and Islands. In addition, they also visited some real example to learn about local business development, the impact and opportunities of digital connectivity and to check the educational measures that have led to this area to retain and attract youthful talent.
From now on, we will work together on a document that will serve as a basis for working on a series of actions that will attract new economic activities, as well as greater human capital to the provinces of Teruel, Cuenca and Soria, and the most sparsely populated territories of Greece and Croatia, adapting them as far as possible to the singularities of each one of them.
This trip is part of the TAIEX program “Peer to Peer” of the Directorate General of Regional Policy of the European Commission, which is intended for the exchange of experiences between public administrations and collaborating entities from different countries of the European Union.
The governments of Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Lika-Senj County (Croatia) and the District of Euritania (Central Greece Region) have been invited to participate in the project, coordinated by the Territory Vertebrate, Mobility and Housing Department of the Government of Aragon, together with representatives of local action groups Leader and entrepreneurs from the provinces of Cuenca, Soria, Teruel and from the territories of Greece and Croatia.
The Sparsely Populated Areas of Southern Europe network was born from the union of the Entrepreneurs associations of Teruel (CEOE Teruel), Soria (FOES) and Cuenca (CEOE-CEPYME Cuenca).
The main objective of this network is to create a work group that fights against the depopulation and his consequences in these regions. In fact, these 5 regions are classified in the statistics of the European Unions as sparsely populated area, with their population rates under 12,5 inhabitants per square km.
To this aim, the Sparsely Populated Areas of Southern Europe network (SSPA) will work towards legislative and policy measures aimed at reversing the process of depopulation, aging and demographic and economic fragility that threatens these territories. The five regions set themselves the objective of achieving a different European policy for these sparsely populated areas by 2020.