On the CoR commission for Natural Resources's agenda: Innovating the rural economy, creating age-friendly tourism and data collection in fisheries

Met dank overgenomen van Comité van de Regio's (CvdR) i, gepubliceerd op donderdag 26 november 2015.

On 24 November the Natural Resources commission (NAT) at the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) elaborated on regions and cities proposal of how to modernise the European rural economy. "Rural areas are currently under increased pressure due to cuts in funding. The time has come to address the growing urban-rural divide, which seriously threatens the principle of territorial cohesion in the EU", said rapporteur Randel Länts (EE/PES), Member of Viljandi City Council .

His draft opinion puts forward a series of key requests, such as: increasing the amount of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) that is available for rural development in the 2014-2020 programming period; establishing a minimum threshold of the European Social Fund (ESF) that is allocated for vocational training in rural areas; as well as limiting the transfer of funds under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from the second to the first pillar. The opinion also calls for the creation of a white paper to serve as a starting point for a post-2020 development policy for rural areas; underlining the importance of the European Innovation Partnership for modernising rural economy as well as promoting agricultural innovation programmes and scientific research; developing measures to stimulate small businesses' product development, calling for more intensive efforts to develop high-speed internet and ICT knowledge in rural areas. "Innovation and modernisation must become cornerstone of rural development", stresses Randel Länts

NAT Members also adopted unanimously the draft opinion on 'Age-friendly Tourism' which highlighted a significant contribution that older people make to Europe's tourism industry. The opinion recommended improvements to aid their mobility through initiatives focusing on safety and accessibility of public areas. Pointing out that the majority of older Europeans do not venture beyond their national borders when on holiday, the NAT called for a new reflection on cross-border healthcare provisions and reiterated the role of local and regional authorities in planning, coordinating and delivering transport, infrastructure, social and health care services, urban planning and rural development. Rapporteur, Annemiek Jetten (NL/PES), Mayor of Sluis, called on regional, national and European policy-makers to improve data-sharing and good practice exchange in tourism and reiterated that it has the potential to " boost innovation, healthy and active living, and intergenerational solidarity". Demographic change is both a challenge and an opportunity for cities and regions across Europe.

Finally, local and regional leaders discussed the draft opinion on data collection in fisheries . Rapporteur Olgierd Geblewicz (PL/EPP) requests more competences for relevant European coastal and maritime regions and argues that collected data can be used as an important tool to develop the blue economy. The West Pomerania Province of Poland, of which Mr Geblewicz is president, enjoys more than 180 kilometres of coastline, and many families make a living directly from the fishing economy. The legislative proposal of the European Commission, amending the data collection framework regulation [1], seeks to simplify the data collection procedure and enhance the regulation's scope. CoR's draft supports the efforts of the European commission to achieve synergies with other policy fields and suggests various measures for effective management of collected data, including the use of data for the needs of European local and regional authorities.

The three draft opinions are scheduled to be adopted at the February 2016 CoR plenary session.

[1] Council Regulation (EC) N° 199/2008