Conference in Segovia
- March 23rd, 2023 –
- Addressing the demographic challenge : Better Cohesion for Rural Areas
- Opportunities and challenges for less densely populated areas
Chapel room of the Museum of Contemporary Art 'Esteban Vicente'
(Pl. Bellas Artes, S/N, 41001 Segovia)
Following the adoption of the new Cohesion Alliance, Partenalia wishes to shed light on the crucial significance of allowing the Cohesion and NEXTGeneration funds to reach less densely populated areas if the EU is to reach the lofty and ambitious goal of “not leaving anyone behind”. Indeed, the cohesive and balanced development of European territories is key to ensuring both a shared prosperity and the positive outlook of citizens on the European project/future of the EU.
The recent sanitary crisis has accelerated the trend of moving back to such areas. Modern TIC have fortunately made it possible to live and thrive professionally in rural areas thanks to the EU’s commitment to ensuring the installation and maintenance of quality TIC infrastructures. Facilitating the access to Cohesion funds for local SMEs, entrepreneurs and Local Intermediate Authorities with their proven capacity to see to it that EU funds are adequately allocated to ensure their most efficient possible use remains instrumental in achieving the goals set out in the Cohesion Policy.
Attracting tourists to these areas can also pave the way for more sustainable tourism practices and help in the deseasonalisation process aimed both at stabilising the influx of tourists even during the low seasons and thus maintain the need for employment throughout the year and at mitigating the effects of mass tourism on urban centers and coastal areas.
Indeed, these areas are often home to some of our most precious patrimony and keepers of European multisecular traditions and ways of living that represent an undeniable touristic appeal.
Finally, the agricultural sector is in dire need of not only financial means to lead the way towards more sustainable practices via the successful implementation of the “farm to the fork” strategy but also of recognition as the backbone of a healthy European society that places the well-being of its citizens at the top of its priority list.
Presidents of Local Intermediate Authorities from the various Member States, stakeholders involved in the revitalisation of less densely populated areas, regional presidents and high representatives of the European Institutions will share their visions and debate on how to guarantee the cohesive development of less densely populated areas.
Miguel Ángel de Vicente Martín – President of the Provincial Council of Segovia
José Manuel Baltar Blanco – President of Partenalia – President of the Provincial Council of Ourense –
President of the EHTTA – Vice President of CEPLI
Panel 1 - European Perspective (10:20 - 11:30)
Krysztof Hetman – Vice-President of the Committee on Regional Development of the European
Nicolas Reynès – Coordinator of Partenalia
Gérard Peltre – President of RED and the European Rurality Movement
Grzegorz Kubalski – Deputy Director of the Association of Polish Provinces (ZPP )
Andrzej PŁONKA – President of the Association of Polish Provinces (ZPP) – Starost (president) of the
Powiat of Bielsko (video)
Nicolas Rossignol –Deputy Director of Research and Policy ESPON
Questions and answers
Panel 2 - Success stories and projects to address the demographic situation (11:30–13:00)
Noemí Otero – Deputy for Employment, Provincial Promotion and Sustainability of the Provincial Council
Jorge Llorente Cachorro – Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of the Junta de Castilla y León
Rubén Rodríguez Lucas - Deputy Minister for the Environment and Territorial Planning of the Junta de
Castilla y León
Miguel Angel Perez Grande – Advisory Member of the Cabinet of the General Secretariat for the
Demographic Challenge (MITECO)
--------------------------- (change of speakers) ----------------------------------
Local Action Groups (4 speakers)
Miguel Laguna del Pozo – Director of AIDESCOM Campiña Segoviana
Mayte Ferreiro Suárez – Director of HONORSE
María José Gil Rincón – Director of Segovia Sur
María del Mar Martín Martín – Director of CODINSE
Questions and answers
Panel 3 – Good practices to face the demographic challenge (13:00-14:00)
Magdalena Rodríguez – Deputy of Prodestur of the Provincial Council of Segovia
José Cabanes – President of the Mancomunitat de l'Horta Sud
Ramón Ropero Mancera – Third Vice President Delegate for International Development Cooperation
and Bullfighting of the Badajoz Provincial Council
Alin-Adrian Nica President of the Judet of Timiș (Romania) (video)
Questions and answers
Conclusion: signing and adhesion of Partenalia to the Alliance for Cohesion 2.0
Networking lunch : 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Moderation: Nicolas Reynès – Coordinator of Partenalia
Interpretation : EN - SP
When : March 23rd
Where : Chapel room of the Museum of Contemporary Art 'Esteban Vicente'
(Pl. Bellas Artes, S/N, 41001 Segovia)
Under the title "Addressing the demographic challenge: better cohesion for rural areas", the president of the Segovia Provincial Council, Miguel Ángel de Vicente, greeted the participants in this hybrid format – onsite and online - conference which took place in the chapel of the "Esteban Vicente" Museum of Contemporary Art, where three debates were held on the European perspective of the demographic challenge, success stories of Local Intermediate Authorities and local good practices. “Our main responsibility is to support rural areas in order to guarantee equal rights and opportunities for all citizens of the territory. The fight against depopulation is essentially a fight for justice, dedicating the necessary effort to create the right conditions for anyone to decide, from their freedom, where to develop their personal and professional life project. As a Public Administration, it is one of our highest missions that, in the 21st century, no one conditions their future to the geographical place where they were born” stated President de Vicente.
President Baltar explained that provincial governments "are more fashionable than ever because they are the paradigm of deconcentration and decentralisation", validating their role as "backbones of the territory and protagonists of public policies at any level".
The president of Partenalia defended the need to take into account the demographic challenge "in all those questions that have to do with new regulations, or the modification of the existing ones, and that affect the territory and the right of the people” calling for "an effort from political parties to legislate with a demographic challenge perspective", before the next mandate of the provincial governments that will begin in Spain after the local elections on May 28 and highlighting the fact that “we could talk about the demographic challenge in any country of the European Union, because low population density is a common characteristic to all the EU countries".
The president praised the management of provincial governments as a "paradigm of closeness" and has stressed "their structuring role in the territory and the role that public policies should give to less populated areas”.
The president stated that Partenalia "allows us to hold the vice-presidency of the European Confederation of Local Intermediate Authorities (CEPLI) and to have a direct dialogue with the Committee of the Regions, with the European commissioners and with the relevant Committees of the European Parliament".
Three panels on the European perspective, success stories and good practices
The attendees debated and shared their visions on how to guarantee the cohesive development of less densely populated areas, emphasizing the need for EU funds to have an impact in these areas "so as not to leave anyone behind". The recent health crisis, they warned, hastened the return of many people to rural areas, where new opportunities arise such as sustainable and seasonally adjusted tourism practices, with the added attraction of hosting in these areas "the most precious heritage along with traditions and centuries-old ways of life". The agricultural sector is also called upon to play an important role as it is "the backbone of a healthy European society".
It is essential to highlight the participation of both Mr. Jorge Llorente Cachorro - Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of the Government of Castilla y León, and Rubén Rodríguez Lucas - Vice Minister of Environment and Land Planning of the Government of Castilla y León and Miguel Ángel Pérez Grande – Advisory Member of the Cabinet of the General Secretariat for the Demographic Challenge (MITECO), who had the opportunity to demonstrate the complementarity of the actions of the different levels of government and the effectiveness of multilevel governance. Rubén Rodríguez presented measures for positive taxation in rural areas. Jorge Llorente announced the increase from 78 to 200 the number of 'CyL Digital' spaces in 2023. The regional government of Castilla y León generated this positive taxation, a new Taxation Law: "what it does is reduce the tax burden on people who live in rural areas by up to 40%," said Rubén Rodríguez.
Rodríguez also outlined the objectives set by the Junta, partly with European funds and partly from the PGC, for essential services and infrastructures in the towns. "Education, tourism and culture services and infrastructures that rural areas need," he stressed.
In the same panel on 'Success stories and projects to address the demographic situation', Llorente also intervened, to present the good results of the 'CyL Digital' and 'Smart Rural Territory' programmes. In the case of the training, training and certification program in digital skills 'CyL Digital', Llorente assured that, in 2023, they will assume "the ambitious challenge" of going from 78 to 200 'CyL Digital' spaces because "we are facing a case of success and we believe that we will have the capacity to carry out this increase”, with an investment of more than five million euros.
The second success story exposed by Llorente, 'Smart Rural Territory', also sets a goal for this year, to go from 1,500 to 2,000 sensorized elements, linked to public services, throughout the Community.
The representatives of the Local Action Groups (LAGs) Miguel Laguna del Pozo - Manager of AIDESCOM Campiña Segoviana, Mayte Ferreiro Suárez - Manager of HONORSE, María José Gil Rincón - Manager of Segovia Sur and María del Mar Martín Martín - Manager of CODINSE underscored the absolute need for the inclusion of local actors in any European, national, regional and provincial strategy for the structuring and revitalisation of the territory and the essential action of the LAGs to achieve living conditions in rural areas that inspire the citizens to stay or return to these areas.
Mr. Peltre, President of the RED and of the European Rurality Movement, through his deep knowledge not only of the realities of life in rural areas but also of the processes of conception and elaboration of the European legislation, presented an optimistic vision of the future of these areas from the ground, recalling that "there are no territories without a future, but only territories without projects". Finally, it is crucial to note that Mr. Rossignol, deputy director of policies and research of the ESPON programme, along with his colleagues, takes into consideration the NUTS III level in the various studies carried out by this precious tool that is ESPON for European political decision-makers when it comes to basing their administrations' measures on specific and detailed data.
Partenalia members presented the successful initiatives implemented in their respective territories: Alin- Adrian Nica - President of Judet de Timiş , José Cabanes - President of the Mancomunitat de l'Horta Sud, Ramón Ropero Mancera – Vice-President of the Badajoz Provincial Council, Noemi Otero Navares and Magdalena Rodríguez - Deputies of the Segovia Provincial Council and Mr. Kubalski and President Plonka of the Association of Polish Provinces (ZPP) who allowed us to confirm the importance of the provincial level also in Poland particularly in view of the ageing of the population in rural areas.
President Nica confirmed:
“We are, indeed, facing a harsh reality here - the depopulation of the Romanian rural areas registers the highest rate in the European Union. According to research, 9 villages in Romania disappear every year. Our villages remain exposed to the massive labor force exodus of citizens who seek a better paid job and, unfortunately, Timiș county was no exception. It is widely acknowledged and agreed that the depopulation of Romanian villages must be stopped and campaigns are run nationally to this objective. It requires tailored approaches for each region as there is no universal solution that fits all. However, I would like to share with you some measures that we have been taking in Timiș. Most importantly, facilitating investments and creating jobs in the rural communities, while at the same time ensuring conditions for increasing the quality of life through infrastructure and quality public services is the most powerful means for keeping people in these areas. People usually leave if they are dissatisfied with their lives and their growth potential offered in their area. Local adequate, up to date conditions in fields such as education, health, culture and entertainment are the pre-requisite of citizens high level of satisfaction.
We, in Timis County, are deploying unprecedented efforts to bring benefits to rural communities by developing the energy and health infrastructure, expanding the gas and water supply networks to the most remote areas, as well. We support the rehabilitation of educational facilities in the county, paying particular attention to nurseries and kindergartens. We place education high on our agendas and strive to ensure equal services and infrastructure in rural as in the urban areas.
In addition, we need to support initiatives devoted to the growth of rural entrepreneurship, create specific opportunities to attract young people to agriculture. For example, we have invested in the creation of a vegetable-fruit collection center to encourage local producers and increase the consumption of local products.
What is more, we created a functional framework to boost cooperation between the public administration, the business environment and academia, to identify specific solutions for the sustainable development of the county and capitalize the full potential of its cultural heritage.
Young people in rural areas will inevitably make the transition to high added-value activities, so we need to also invest in the connective infrastructure, thus they can easily commute to the metropolitan areas and bring back prosperity to local communities. We are currently redesigning the network architecture of our Metropolitan Public Transport, in order to render this service more efficient and attractive for the rural population.
It is my vision to develop our county as a unit, reducing the disparities between the urban and rural areas, between rich communities and those with fewer resources, so that every citizen, regardless of where they live, has access to quality public services and finds an honest partner in the local administration.”
For her part, the deputy for the Area of Employment, Provincial Promotion and Sustainability, Noemí Otero, highlighted the Sustainable Rural Agenda of the province of Segovia as a success story to address the demographic situation. “The Sustainable Rural Agenda is a pioneering document that marks the roadmap for the future of our province. We want to face the demographic challenge and promote social cohesion in our province and we will do so through the implementation of real policies and rooted in the territory that favor sustainable and equitable development ”, she pointed out.
Magdalena Rodríguez highlighted the tourism strategy of the province as one of the main assets to give economic opportunities to current inhabitants and to attract new dwellers to rural areas. Some of these touristic assets are even specific to rural and less densely populated areas as is the case with the Starlight label that guarantees the absence of light pollution in any given area in order for tourists and permanent inhabitants to be able to enjoy gazing at the stars during clear nights.
José Cabanes, President of the Mancomunitat de l'Horta Sud, insisted on the tourism strategy of the Mancomunitat as a way of revitalising less densely populated areas. The president stressed the significance of touristic assets such as the Castle of Alaquàs, declared a national monument, watchtowers from the Muslim era, many of them in a good state of preservation and clear vestiges of local history, Manises which has recently been declared a Creative City by the Unesco., the Albufera Natural Park, festivals and traditions with centuries of history, such as the Passejà de Sant Onofre, which this year celebrates its 300th anniversary or more recent, but is deeply rooted, such as the Moors and Christians of Sedaví, an International Clown Show in Xirivella that every year brings together the most important figures of this art, the Holy Week celebrations in Torrent or Benetúss which have been declared an asset of regional and provincial tourist interest, respectively and local gastronomy with typical dishes such as allipebre, baked rice, sausages.
Ramón Ropero Mancera – Vice-President of the Badajoz Provincial Council explained that the Diputación de Badajoz pursues the objective of converting rural territories and unpopulated areas that are considered as “problem territories” into opportunity territories.
Progress in digitalization processes that improves the provision of services and conceiving rural development as linked to equal opportunities should be a priority. Providing depopulated rural areas with good access to ICTs would make it easier for these territories to be more attractive to a talented young population that wants to start a life project but cannot find accommodation in big cities.
The fight against depopulation should not be an individual task but a collective one.
The fundamental axes of the EU funds department regarding the demographic challenge are:
Actions aimed at job creation through the Programme of Activation of Local Employment. Promoting work and income generation in Estremadura.
Actions aimed at entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Office that will develops and articulates different programmes aimed at activating new entrepreneurs in the fight against depopulation of rural areas, with an approach focused on sustainability and circular economy. Services will focus on support and advice together with help lines for municipalities and private companies.
Training for employment is another of the actions to be highlighted through different training programmes throughout the provincial territory, depending on the needs of the municipalities and productive sectors with the aim of promoting employment, equality of opportunities and the social integration of vulnerable groups.
Lastly, actions aimed at improving support services for municipalities, among which it is worth highlighting technical assistance in green areas, sustainable farming and the revitalization of livestock fairs.
At present, there are several projects that are being executed within the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism that are oriented to the demographic challenge:
Singular Local Clean Energy Projects in Demographic challenge Municipalities (DUS5000 PROGRAM) Fight against light pollution, efficient and intelligent lighting, Smart Rural and ICT, with a total of 43 files covering a total of 50 municipalities in the province.
Acelera Pyme Project: The purpose of this project is the creation of 4 Acelera Pyme Offices (OAP), each of them energised by an agent specialist in digital transformation, in the context of the Network of Comprehensive Development Centers (CID Network) of the Diputación de Badajoz.
Joining the new Cohesion Alliance: Alliance to strengthen the EU’s Cohesion Policy
The meeting ended with the adhesion of Partenalia to the Cohesion Alliance, a coalition of associations of local governments and the European Committee of the Regions that advocates the reinforcement of cohesion as a fundamental value of the European Union.
The dynamism of Partenalia, of which this event has been a very concrete example, allows us to reinforce the leading role that the network has not only within the CEPLI through the vice-presidency of said confederation, but also in the promotion of European cooperation between subnational administrative entities that are the ones that often make European cohesion a reality and give shape to the broad guidelines decided at EU level.
Participants left this day with a variety of concrete success stories that demonstrated the need for the existence of this local administrative level, incarnations of the principles of subsidiarity and multilevel governance and that underlined the fact that, with political and citizen will, it is indeed possible to revitalise rural aeas and ensure that, as president De Vicente commented during his speech, "no one conditions their future to the geographical place where they were born."
The diversity of perspectives is what makes Partenalia a representative network that can carry the voice of Local Intermediate Authorities of territories that are faced with a common challenge but have varying development levels, geographical situations, number of inhabitants, financial and administrative capacities and degrees of experience in the management of EU funds to EU institutions.
Wednesday, 8 March 2023
Thursday, 13 October 2022
Partenalia meets with President Alves Cordeiro and Vice-President Hetman
Thursday, 13 October 2022
Partenalia holds its political council at its headquarters in Brussels