Unlocking Rural Potential: Highlights from the High-Level Policy Forum by the Rural Pact

At the recent High-Level Rural Policy Forum convened in Sigüenza, Spain, the Rural Pact Community highlighted the critical need to streamline access to financial opportunities for local actors and communities. This strategic imperative seeks to empower these entities to realise their projects and aspirations, fostering a more unified and comprehensive development of rural territories with a strong emphasis on inclusivity.

A noteworthy initiative in this direction is the Rural Toolkit for EU funding, a collaborative endeavour between DG REGIO and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, operating under the Rural Action Plan. This tool, currently under development, is poised to play a pivotal role in assisting rural actors in effectively accessing and utilising EU funds. Crafted to offer practical guidance, tools, and best practices, its goal is to elevate the territorial development of rural areas in alignment with the objectives outlined in the Long-Term Vision for the EU’s Rural Areas.

The High-Level Rural Policy Forum, attended by over 200 participants representing all EU Member States, served as a dynamic platform to advance the political agenda for the future of rural areas. The event united European and national high-level political representatives, including European Commissioners, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Secretaries of State, and senior managers responsible for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Cohesion Policy (CP).

The Forum fostered a structured dialogue to explore how EU policies and funds can be optimally deployed to realise the Rural Vision, aligning with the policy priorities of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU. Additionally, it sought to enhance the design of rural policies and encourage active participation within the framework of the Rural Pact. The discussions delved into improving multi-level governance frameworks, participatory structures, and avenues to amplify the voices of rural actors and stakeholders. The overarching goal was to identify pathways through which the Rural Pact can bring added value to rural development.

To delve into the nuanced insights and key messages from this significant event, a comprehensive report has been compiled. This report aims to contribute valuable perspectives to the conclusions of the Council of the EU on the Long-Term Vision for the EU’s Rural Areas. For those eager to gain an in-depth understanding of the discussions and outcomes, the full report is available for download. It serves as an informative resource for stakeholders, policymakers, and anyone invested in the sustainable development of rural territories.

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