Czech Rural Pact Aims To Mobilise Resources For Rural Development In The Czech Republic

Smart villages and an effective Rural Pact are essential to ensure the development of rural areas. Photo credit: KK/BrnoDaily.

Czech Republic, Oct. 31 (BD) – On 27-28 October, during a rural development conference in Lednice, the Czech Republic presented its Rural Pact, a strategy that brings together citizens, local authorities, and other partners to promote rural development in the country. The main topics were smart villages and the support for rural areas from EU funds. 

Representatives of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the Czech Presidency of the EU Council and the European Parliament also pledged to work towards a real revitalisation of the countryside and signed a joint declaration “Together for a Smart Rural Europe”.

The seminar was jointly organised by the CoR’s Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) and the European Parliament, specifically its Rural, Upland and Remote Areas (RUMRA) and Smart Villages sub-groups. The needs of citizens living outside of main urban centres are the main focus of the Czech Rural Pact, which was presented in Lednice on Thursday in a seminar entitled “Community-based local development and smart villages as innovative tools for effective rural development”. 

“To achieve territorial cohesion, we need a holistic approach, linking the concepts of smart villages, smart cities, and smart regions,” said Radim Sršeň, Czech Deputy Minister for Regional Development and Vice-President of the NAT Commission. “We need to reduce the development gap between urban and rural areas through European investment funds and instruments such as CLLD (Community-Led Local Development), by regularly applying territorial impact assessments and “rural proofing’.” 

“It is about how to use all the resources we have to tackle rural issues,” said Jan Grolich, Governor of the South Moravian Region. “Whether it’s local energy based on renewable sources, or technologies that can improve access to basic services in health, social care, commerce, or culture. South Moravia would not be what it is without villages, and we must do everything we can to ensure that the countryside remains a uniquely vibrant place.” 

According to Franc Bogovič, co-chair of the European Parliament’s RUMRA and Smart Villages Intergroup, the pandemic and the war have brutally exposed the vulnerability and dependence of the EU’s regions. “Smart villages that enrich and support our rural lives are a big part of the solution. They strengthen rural communities and give them the tools they need to address their shortcomings,” he said. “Our rural areas have the potential to be the most flexible and therefore resilient regions on our continent, with local populations that are autonomous and can find sustainable solutions on the fly. This applies to connectivity, sustainable and precision agriculture, eHealth, tourism, energy, mobility, education and social cohesion.”

Local leaders, members of the European Parliament, and national and regional experts also discussed the way forward for the current EU financial period and the shaping of future programming periods with long-term vision. The conclusions and findings were summarised in a declaration “Together for a smart rural Europe”, which was adopted by the participants at the end of the event.

The Rural Pact is one of the initiatives announced in the long-term vision of the Commission for Rural Affairs, published at the end of June 2021. The aim of the Pact is to mobilise public authorities and stakeholders to meet the needs and aspirations of rural communities. It is intended to provide a common framework for engagement and cooperation at the EU, national, regional and local levels.

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