Agriculture ministers: more EU money for investments in rural areas

Agriculture ministers of the EU countries have called for a stronger urban-rural dialogue. Speaking at an informal meeting, Slovenian President Jože Podgoršek said that clashes between urban gebieden and rural areas should be prevented through technology and by improving roads and connections.

According to Podgorsek, there was an almost unanimous view that “a multifaceted approach to rural development is needed, using not only the EU agricultural subsidies but also the new corona recovery fund and the already existing EU funds.

In many EU countries, the extra corona fund billions from the second pillar of agricultural subsidies are mainly used for the construction of new roads and railways, deferred maintenance, the construction of internet networks and village renewal.
The ministers mainly used their brainstorming session in Slovenia to exchange good ideas.

Young farmers play a “key role in unlocking the potential of rural property”, according to the CEJA, the European Association of Young Farmers. Speaking to agriculture ministers, CEJA President Diana Lenzi also spoke about strengthening the dialogue between urban and rural areas.

The EU's long-term vision provides ample opportunities to "address the serious challenges facing rural communities," the association said.

Spanish minister Luis Planas said the discussion should not be about 'extra' money for the countryside because the EU already has enough resources that can be used for this – such as the already existing recovery or structural funds.

Planas stressed that rural areas in Spain cover about 85% of the territory where about 20% of citizens live. Poland is also so vast, but there more than forty percent of the population lives in small rural villages.

The obstacles and challenges facing rural areas "are not just Spanish, they are European," the Spanish minister said. What he believes is needed are specific programs that, in addition to the CAP, indicate what we can do in the areas of infrastructure and transport, education, and services such as keeping bank branches open in small villages.

The second day of the meeting was attended by European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski.