The fourth Thematic Group (TG) meeting discussed the future direction of the ENRD thematic work, specifically, areas in which the TG could support the practical implementation of ideas behind Smart Villages.
Representatives from the European Commission explained that smart village strategies can be broader than strategies for digitisation to also cover social innovation. Nevertheless, improved understanding of the concept is now necessary in order to move ‘from ideas to implementation’. A stakeholder survey, carried out within the framework of the pilot project ‘Smart Villages’, revealed that a definition “should not be restrictive, but rather aim to inspire and aspire to”.
In this context, the TG’s contribution could include orientations for policy implementers clarifying what the strategies could be and how they can be developed, while showcasing examples of using different instruments and funds and of jointed-up governance systems. These would be disseminated through both institutional and networking channels.
At the EU level, the priority will be to integrate the smart villages approach in the future CAP Strategic Plans and to ensure EU funds work together smoothly on the ground.