Flagship: Supporting entrepreneurship and the social economy in rural areas
The Social Economy Action Plan (SEAP), adopted in December 2021, includes specific actions for rural areas such as:
- Supporting Member States and stakeholders to boost the social economy and social innovation in rural areas through the future EU network for the Common Agricultural Policy.
- Expanding the European Social Economy Regions network to reinforce new regional and local partnerships to boost digital and green transitions in territories.
- Enhancing networking between rural businesses through the Enterprise Europe Network, as well as through calls for inter-regional cooperation through the European Social Economy Missions.
The Commission launched on 14 October 2022 a Transition Pathway for the ‘Proximity and Social Economy’ that sets a clear agenda for accelerating the green and digital transition of social economy companies and organisations in the decade to come. Stakeholders are invited to propose pledges to commit.
On 30 November 2022, the EU CAP network organised the workshop on “Young entrepreneurs - Engines of innovation in rural areas” to highlight good practices from EU-funded programmes and leadership examples from local communities, and innovators in rural communities.
In the specific field of retail, the Commission:
- has organised in cooperation with the Slovenian EU Council presidency a #Revitalise Retail workshop that discussed the digitalisation of retail SMEs with a focus on rural areas (Dec. 2021).
- will conduct a study on experiences of retail SMEs who have successfully embraced innovative green and digital solutions and transformed their business models to respond to changing consumer habits, including a rural angle.
Learn more about social economy in the EU.
Learn more about the social economy action plan.
Discover the project EYE in rural (ERASMUS+).
The Commission called for proposals, under the Single Market programme, to support transnational partnerships to boost the capacity of SMEs in “proximity and social economy” to green their operations, and innovate with their products, services and processes.
The call covered training, coaching, capacity building, peer learning, incubation, job shadowing or awareness raising activities. Social economy enterprises in rural areas can benefit from this project.
Encouraging education, training and employment opportunities for young people in rural areas
- Monitors the implementation of the reinforced Youth Guarantee, a commitment by the EU Member States that all young people under 30 receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or traineeship, including in rural and remote areas.
- Collaborates with Member States, other countries and stakeholders via the European Education Area strategic framework Working Groups. The focus of the Working Groups is to, as part of the mutual learning, share information about reforms of national education policies, and to inspire inclusive and quality education across EU.
The Council of the EU has adopted in November 2022 the Recommendation on Pathways to School Success. The recommendation acknowledges specific challenges for rural and remote areas and highlights the need for rural and remote areas to have equal access to quality education and life-long learning.
The commission will explore mechanisms to support employment of rural young people through an EU CAP Network thematic group in Spring 2023.
The EU CAP Network published an issue of their Policy Insight series on how to help younger generations find employment in rural areas.
Promoting the development of a sustainable bioeconomy in rural areas
The Communication on the EU Forest strategy, adopted in July 2021, aims to:
- support EU forest managers to provide new business opportunities and remunerate land management through the Common Agricultural Policy;
- achieve the EU’s biodiversity objectives by 2030;
- meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction target by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.
In this context, rural municipalities that have a sizeable forest area have a major role to play in developing the bioeconomy. The Commission promoted the creation of a network of forest dominant rural municipalities through a dedicated EU CAP Network thematic group in Spring 2023.
Progress on the development of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy was published in May 2022.
In addition, the EU regulatory framework for carbon removals, adopted in November 2022, defines quality criteria of carbon removal certificates, including from product of the bioeconomy able to store carbon for a long time.
Supporting the role of producer organisations and producer groups in rural development
Local producers strengthen the social fabric in rural areas and contribute to increasing the standard of living in rural areas. The Commission is:
- addressing the role of producer organisations (POs) and producers of Geographical Indications (GIs) and their contribution to rural development via a series of mini conferences in Member States, events and workshops.
- empowering POs via a forum to share best practices in the agri-food supply chain to further strengthen their position in the supply chain.
- supporting producer groups of geographical indications with new tools to strengthen their position in the food supply chain via a series of conferences.