CEOE Teruel, Federation of Business Organizations OF Soria and CEOE CEPYME Cuenca have signed a collaboration agreement to establish a Network of Southern Sparsely Populated Areas (SSPA), which will work to achieve legislative and political measures aimed at reversing the process of depopulation, aging and demographic and economic fragility that threaten these territories.

Design and implement measures in collaboration with other actors of civil society and public authorities to deal efficiently with problems such as low population density, aging or inefficient existing structure to settle new inhabitants as well as serious economic, social and environmental consequences of this situation, which are on the way to becoming irreversible. This is the main objective of the agreement signed today by the three employers in Teruel, Soria and Cuenca, whose provinces that share the difficulties mentioned.

The collaboration agreement signed by Carlos Torre, president of the Business Confederation of Teruel (CEOE Teruel); Santiago Aparicio, president of the Federation of Business Organizations of Soria (FOES) and Abraham Sarrión, president of the Confederation of Entrepreneurs of Cuenca (CEOE CEPYME Cuenca) and the presence of Antonio Garamendi, President of CEPYME and vice-president of CEOE, The establishment of a Southern Sparsely Populated Areas network (SSPA), is similar to other long-standing organizations in the countries of northern Europe. Among other things, it will serve to ensure that all the signatory entities and others that may accede to it later formulate and promote measures to reverse these trends and, in short, fight depopulation with effective instruments and with the public authorities of the State, European Union, its Member States and the organizations that make up the community.

The three business organizations have set up a working group, which is part of the European Union transparency register, which will define the actions of common interest to be developed by the SSPA and coordinate its implementation. This SSPA is a network whose aim is to achieve a different European policy in 2020 for these sparsely populated regions. This SSPA is limited to these three Spanish provinces because they are the only ones in Spain that recognize the official statistics of the European Union with the consideration of sparsely populated areas.

In the opinion of Carlos Torre “This signature culminates three years of work and now begins a new period in which we want to add to the SSPA other European regions that share our problems of depopulation and try to allocate new European funds to combat them. This Thursday we met with Commissioner Corina Cretu and the Government of Aragon to convey the need for specific policies to stop this demographic decline that we suffer. For his part, Abraham Sarrión recalled that “It is time to implement measures against depopulation that are already operating in other regions of Europe, as in Scotland or Lapland, relying on local communities and collaborating with all the administrations involved.” In the words of Santiago Aparicio, “Today we are taking an important qualitative step towards the implementation of specific policies for these sparsely populated areas. Something had to have been done by the politicians of this country, but we had to do it, without being our competence, to achieve the economic development of our provinces. ” To finish Antonio Garamendi has affirmed “All the Spanish entrepreneurs are part of this project and we want other organizations also to join, because this battle is everyone’s. These provinces need infrastructures and policies that facilitate the installation of companies and SMEs can compete.

Prior to the signing of this agreement they have already been collaborating against depopulation with actions that have led them to expose the seriousness of this context to the main European leaders competent in the matter, claiming not so much a greater allocation of funds as these will be applied in full to regions and activities capable of reversing the process of economic and demographic decline that extends through Teruel, Soria and Cuenca, but also in many other European territories.

The model to be followed is the one that has been implemented in the regions of northern Sweden and Finland and especially in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, where, with a focus and good practices, they have managed to invest a long process of depopulation and economic abandonment, increasing the population, rejuvenating it and becoming one of the most innovative and dynamic regions of the European Union.

The business organizations of Teruel, Soria and Cuenca have already moved their approaches, the inefficiency of the specific funds currently available for these territories and the collaboration agreement they have signed to the Government of Aragon, which shares the concern for depopulation and that also works on a plan to combat it. With their mediation, they also hope to be able to transfer their concerns, as they have done on previous occasions, to the European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu, who will soon visit Aragon.

The problem of depopulation is neither new nor exclusive to these three Spanish provinces, but the greater gravity and necessity of taking urgent measures for Teruel, Soria and Cuenca is well recognized in different documents, including the GEOSPECS report Emanates from a request of the European Commission itself; The Association Agreement between Spain and the European Union 2014-2020; The Operational Program of the ERDF of Aragon 2014-2020 and the agreements and pronouncements of institutions such as the Congress of Deputies, the Senate of Spain, the parliaments of Aragon, Castile and Leon and Castilla la Mancha or the Provincial Councils of Teruel, Soria And Cuenca.

The event held in Cuenca is a new milestone, since it constitutes the official act of establishing a European lobby – the members of the SSPA network have already initiated contacts with representatives of entities from other Member States – specific against depopulation that affects other Regions of Europe other than the Nordic ones. These depopulated regions of the south had hardly been acknowledged by the European Union until the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, so the SSPA network will seek to ensure that the EU and the Member States take account of this situation. Circumstances and allocate the appropriate budget for the next programming period of European funds to start in 2021.