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Digital connectivity is essential for the EU’s Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas

The EU’s Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas identifies digital connectivity as a fundamental pre-requisite for the development of business, health, education, administration and banking services, and more, and for achieving a comparable quality of life to that in cities.

Photograph of a group of people in a rural wild landscape, with their hands shielding their eyes as they look towards the sunset. The title over part of the image reads: "Digital connectivity is essential for the EU’s Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas"

European Broadband Competence Offices Network Support Facility

It is essential for achieving stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous rural areas. As such, the ‘Vision’ aims for broadband to become a basic service, like water or electricity, with 100% coverage by 2025, explains Mario Milouchev, Director within the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development in this video.

The ‘Vision’ was built on an extensive public consultation which revealed the perception that rural areas are underappreciated: “40% of rural respondents said that they felt left behind by society”.

The ‘Vision’ describes the current state of play, analyses it and foresees the steps needed to achieve specific goals for rural areas within a 20-year timeframe. It gathers all the European Commission’s policies for rural areas, and establishes a Rural Action Plan involving all levels of governance and all the relevant rural actors.

As Mr Milouchev notes, the previous such Commission communication was produced 33 years ago, in 1988, “when we had the European Community with only 12 Member States, the iron curtain was in place and we had no Internet”. The new ‘Vision’ is therefore of even greater importance, given that rural areas are home to 30% of the EU population and cover 80% of its territory.

In the context of the EU's Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas, the Commission launched the Rural Pact on December 2021 to create a framework for cooperation between governance bodies and stakeholders at EU, national, regional and local levels. The work on the Rural Pact will culminate with proposals for its management which will be presented at the Rural Pact Conference on 15-16 June 2022 in Brussels

You can join the Rural Pact community and take part in the discussion on its development and implementation, and find out more about the EU’s Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas and the Rural Action Plan.

This interview was filmed as part of the European Broadband Competence Offices (BCO) Network’s work to raise awareness of EU support for high-speed broadband deployment and share good practices in broadband projects. Discover more interviews in the BCO Network YouTube playlist and more broadband good practices, news and resources in the BCO Network Library.

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European Broadband Competence Offices Network Support Facility