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