Funding for Rural Areas - Event Report

Mar 25, 2018


PURPLE President Mrs Helyn Clack was a guest speaker and panellist at an event which took place recently (Monday February 19th) in Brussels, co-organised by the Committee of the Regions and the Rurality-Environment-Development network (RED).

The event focused on how integrated development of rural areas might most effectively be financed in the future. Speakers from three Directorate Generals of the European Commission each set out details of work being done in their respective parts of the organisation to help ensure that funding under the cohesion policy programmes for 2020 onwards might best be made reach rural parts of Europe.

In Mrs Clack's address she outlined the nature of peri-urban areas and argued that they present an obvious test bed for a smarter and more place-centred approach to funding in the future. Insisting on the place-first approach, Mrs Clack explained that only by returning the territorial dimension to the centre of our thinking will we be in a position to design, and subsequently to manage, funding schemes that genuinely reflect the priorities, challenges and opportunities of different localities across Europe.

There is a universal desire to see simplification of funding regimes but Mrs Clark explained that territories are not always simple and in that sense, complexity is, to a degree, inevitable. That complexity however should not serve as an obstacle to those who we wish to access funding.

Any crude distinction between urban and rural and any failure to recognise that in parts of Europe these two territory types coexist and coincide is to do a disservice to those whom we ultimately hope will benefit from funding interventions.

Mrs Clack was keen to emphasise that in peri-urban areas in particular, expertise in devising funding regimes that work already exists. She offered two pertinent examples from PURPLE member regions - giving outline details of work underway during the 2014-20 programme in both Brandenburg and South Moravia. Each approach clearly demonstrates the benefit of adopting a methodology where a consideration of the place in which funding is to be invested comes at the beginning of the thought and design process. Both examples demonstrate how such an approach makes it possible to then develop the necessary governance and programme management arrangements necessary to make a success of integrated funding regimes.

Mrs Clack invited those present to benefit from the experience of peri-urban Europe and to ensure that the place-first approach is written into guidance for forthcoming finance programmes and their management at all levels - European, national and regional/local.