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EU’s Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas: Key Achievements and Ways Forward

rural vision

The European Commission recently published the report on the long-term vision for EU’s rural areas, marking a significant milestone in shaping the future of rural communities. This comprehensive report assesses progress made, introduces new data, and outlines potential directions for enhanced support and financing. Let’s delve into the key takeaways:

1. New Indicators and Data

The report introduces a set of fresh indicators and data specifically tailored to rural areas. These metrics aim to provide a more nuanced understanding of rural development, challenges, and opportunities. By collecting and analyzing relevant data, policymakers can make informed decisions to address the unique needs of rural communities.

2. 30 Months of Implementation

Reflecting on 30 months of implementing the rural vision, the report evaluates the contributions of two critical policy frameworks: the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and cohesion policy. Here are some highlights:

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

  • Support for Farmers: CAP continues to play a vital role in supporting farmers and ensuring food security across rural Europe. It provides direct payments, promotes sustainable farming practices, and invests in rural infrastructure.
  • Environmental Stewardship: The report emphasizes the need to align CAP with environmental objectives. Encouraging sustainable practices, biodiversity conservation, and climate resilience is crucial for rural areas.
  • Digital Transformation: CAP recognizes the importance of digitalization in agriculture. Smart farming technologies, precision agriculture, and access to high-speed internet are essential for rural development.

Cohesion Policy

  • Investment in Infrastructure: Cohesion policy contributes to rural development by investing in infrastructure, education, healthcare, and innovation. It aims to reduce disparities between regions and enhance overall well-being.
  • Social Inclusion: The report highlights the role of cohesion policy in promoting social inclusion. Access to quality healthcare, education, and cultural amenities is essential for vibrant rural communities.
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Encouraging entrepreneurship and supporting innovative projects can revitalize rural economies. Cohesion funds can foster local initiatives and create jobs.

3. EU Rural Action Plan: Ways Forward

The report outlines several pathways for advancing the EU rural action plan and the rural pact. Here are key considerations:

Green Transition

  • Climate-Resilient Agriculture: Rural areas must adapt to climate change. Investing in climate-smart agriculture, renewable energy, and sustainable land management is critical.
  • Circular Economy: Promoting circular practices—such as recycling, reusing, and reducing waste—can boost rural economies while minimizing environmental impact.
  • Nature-Based Solutions: Enhancing biodiversity, restoring ecosystems, and protecting natural resources contribute to rural well-being.

Digital Transformation

  • Broadband Connectivity: High-speed internet is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. Rural communities need reliable connectivity for education, telemedicine, e-commerce, and remote work.
  • Skills Development: Digital literacy and skills training are essential. Empowering rural residents to embrace technology ensures their active participation in the digital economy.

Social Cohesion

  • Quality of Life: Rural areas offer a unique quality of life, but challenges persist. Strengthening healthcare services, cultural amenities, and social networks enhances well-being.
  • Youth Engagement: Encouraging youth to stay in rural areas or return after education is crucial. Providing opportunities for education, employment, and recreation is essential.

Key questions to share the future EU rural policies

Taken together, the proposals and recommendations summarised above provide useful input for reflection on the future policies for rural areas and communities and will inform the reflections on the post 2027 multi annual financial framework (MFF). The most prominent topics raised to date by the EU institutions and bodies and stakeholders call for the following questions to be considered:

  • What are the key challenges arising from depopulation, ongoing transitions and structural changes for which EU interventions provide added value?
  • What are the best ways to address them in a targeted way that considers the different needs of various rural communities?
  • How to enhance financial support for rural areas and communities through EU, national and regional funds, including improving synergies and complementarities between them?
  • What is needed to improve financing, quality of delivery and effectiveness through territorial tools such as CLLD/LEADER?
  • How to improve the monitoring and assessment of the resources targeted to rural areas and communities from the different EU funds and programmes?
  • What is needed to improve access to support for the final beneficiary through simpler rules, optimised procedures and improved administrative capacities?
  • What can be done for wider and more efficient implementation of the rural proofing mechanism at EU, national and regional level?
  • What are the best policy tools to ensure institutional, governance and integrated support for rural areas at all levels?
  • At EU level, would turning the rural vision into a strategy have added value in terms of meaningful actions on the ground?
  • How can the EU further help Member States, regions and local communities develop national and regional rural strategies and action plans?
  • How to improve the availability of policy-relevant rural statistics and data, without increasing the administrative burden?


The long-term vision for EU’s rural areas aims to create stronger, connected, resilient, and prosperous communities. By leveraging green and digital transitions, policymakers can ensure that rural Europe thrives. As we move forward, let’s continue the dialogue, engage stakeholders, and prioritize actions that benefit everyone—whether they live in bustling cities or serene countryside.

For more detailed information, refer to the official report.