The process

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The need for designing a long-term vision for rural areas was underlined in President von der Leyen’s political guidelines and in the mission letters to Vice-President Šuica, Commissioner Wojciechowski and Commissioner Ferreira. Article 174 TFUE calls for the EU to pay particular attention to rural areas, among others, when promoting its overall harmonious development, strengthening its economic, social and territorial cohesion and reducing disparities between the various regions.

The Commission ran a public consultation on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas from 07 September to 30 November 2020. Over 50% of respondents stated that infrastructure is the most pressing need for rural areas. Some 43% of respondents also cited access to basic services and amenities, such as water and electricity as well as banks and post offices, as an urgent need over the next 20 years. Respondents thought that the attractiveness of rural areas will largely depend on the availability of digital connectivity (93%), of basic services and e-services (94%) and on improving the climate and environmental performance of farming (92%).

A Eurobarometer survey carried out in April 2021 assessed priorities for a Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas. The survey found that: 79% of respondents supported the EU giving consideration to rural areas in public spending decisions; 65% of those surveyed thought that local areas or provinces should be able to decide how EU rural investment is spent; and 44% mentioned transport infrastructure and connections as key needs in rural Europe.

Rural Vision Week in March 2021, and the subsequent Rural Voices Report, provided further inputs into the process of developing a Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas.