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Rural areas in Europe are facing different challenges concerning poverty and social inclusion. A higher proportion of the EU-27 population living in rural areas face the risk of poverty or social exclusion compared to urban areas. In 2019, just over 23.6% of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion, while lower shares were recorded for people living in cities. To tackle these disparities, ENRD CP has given special attention to vulnerable groups such as young people, women, migrants, the elderly, persons with disabilities and minorities.

In addition, many rural areas are locked into a 'circle of decline' by two mutually reinforcing trends: i) a shortage of sustainable business activities; and ii) inadequate and declining services. Tackling these issues and creating an enabling environment to counter demographic trend of depopulation is essential for achieving vibrant rural areas.