On 3 October 2018, the European Parliament successfully approved the motion for a resolution addressing the specific needs of rural, mountainous and remote areas, presented by MEP Iskra Mihaylova on behalf of the REGI Committee.
The FREE initiative welcomes the positive outcome of the vote, which calls for coordination of EU policies to ensure the development of rural territories to tackle the economic, environmental and social challenges facing all regions of Europe, and in particular, rural areas.
To foster cohesion and to encourage the need for rural communities to take full advantage of new opportunities offered by decentralised services such as energy solutions, the motion suggests the establishment of a ‘Smart Villages Pact’. This will ensure that EU policies that will have an impact on rural areas, will have a more effective, integrated and coordinated approach.
Adding to this positive note, the Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corinna Cretu, acknowledged the needs of rural areas. During the debate that preceded the vote, the Commissioner indicated her wish to end her current mandate with the approval by EU Member States of a ‘Pact for Rural Areas’ as was the case in 2016 for urban areas.
The resolution is an impetus for rural areas. For this reason, the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Rural, Remote and Mountainous Areas (RUMRA), led by the FREE initiative, will hold a breakfast debate in the European Parliament on 20 November. This will be an ideal opportunity to discuss with policymakers the resolution in more detail, and tangible actions to address the challenges still facing rural areas, such as the decarbonisation of off-grid heating, in line with Europe 2050 targets.