Rural Pact Conference in Sweden

11.05.2023 | News from EESC, News from EESC

On 3 and 4 May 2023, director of ODRAZ participated in the conference “Acting for Rural Areas – Sharing Rural Pact Experiences and Learning for the Future, which was held in the Swedish city of Uppsala.


The long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas was launched in June 2021. Since then, rural pact mobilisation has started in various parts of the Union, to make rural Europe stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous by 2040.

The aim of the conference was to analyse what are the experiences so far and what can we learn from each other in order to take the next steps for a revitalised rural Europe.


Some of the topics that were discussed:

  • Best practices and examples on the implementation of the Rural Pact at national level.
  • Multi-level governance for holistic rural development.
  • Tools and methods for the Rural Pact.
  • Young people’s involvement and participation in the Rural Pact.

There were participants from different member states, NGOs, politicians, researchers, and representatives of the EU institutions. The event started with study visits to rural businesses in Uppsala County on May 3, and continued with an interactive conference on May 4.

The conference was arranged in close dialogue with the Government Offices of Sweden and the European Commission.

Conclusions from the conference will be useful for the upcoming guidelines for the Rural Pact that are being designed, and will also be handed over to the Spanish presidency at the conclusion of the conference.

There were lectures as well as interactive talks in open space arrangements and workshops on highly current topics relating to the long-term Rural Vision and the Rural Pact.

Dubravka Šuica, EU Vice President in charge of Democracy and Demography gave a speech the first day of the conference. “We are investing seriously in our commitment to rural areas. We have programmed over 120 million euros of funding for the period 2021 to 2024” she mentioned.

”We have been piloting a rural proofing mechanism in the European Commission for over a year now, with promising results. We are raising awareness of rural concerns. Rural areas are essential for the resilience of the European Union”, she concluded.

Lidija Pavić-Rogošić represented European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

Lidija Pavić-Rogošić was invited as a panellist in the discussion on “How can we engage the different participants to join the pact and act for rural areas”. Other panelists were: Birgitta Sacrédeus, member of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR); Marion Eckardt, vice President of the European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD) and Leneisja Jungsberg, senior research fellow, NordRegio. The moderator of the panel was Enrique Nieto, deputy team leader, Rural Pact Support Office.

The panelists had a chance to answer two questions, and bellow are interventions made by Lidija Pavic-Rogosic:

How is EESC working to strengthen the rural pact and ensure that the voices of all socio-economic actors and civil society are heard?

The EESC has committed itself to supporting the Rural Pact, and we officially joined the community during the first Rural Pact Conference last June. The EESC is well-placed to promote the Rural Pact and rural voices to be heard – having 329 members representing the civil society at broad, gathering employers from big and smaller businesses, trade unions as well as small farmers organisations, NGOs, etc.

The EESC published No. of opinions on the Rural Pact and introduced rural proofing. Making the voice, challenges and opportunities of rural areas visible in our Committee is already a starting point.

The EESC is engaged with other institutions and stakeholders in the participation of local/ national/ European/ international events, co-organization of events, and highlights the opportunities of the Rural Pact in each of these. As examples:

  • The thematic debate on renewable energies in rural areas in the Committee
  • The partnership event with ECOLISE, the European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability
  • The conference that I organised in Croatia on Rural Pact in October 2022
  • Visit of ERP representatives.

The EESC committed to:

  • further contributing to the facilitation process of the Rural Pact, but also
  • promoting and implementing the Rural Pact within and outside the EESC,
  • organising EU interinstitutional debates to maintain the momentum at EU but also national levels.

How can the Pact facilitate or incentivise the participation of socio-economic actors? Should this differ for those who have traditionally engaged in rural policy debates and for those that were not traditionally engaged but are active in fields that are important for rural areas?

The sustainable development of rural areas touches upon every EU policy (employment, access to services, transport, digitalisation, urban development, etc.), as well as a participatory approach at local level. 

The silos approach will certainly not make rural areas attractive and prosperous. All rural people and stakeholders should be included in designing and implementing comprehensive strategies for the development of their rural areas, not just those traditionally engaged in rural policy debates.

For the Rural Pact to fulfil its role as a comprehensive and holistic strategy for balanced, cohesive, equitable and sustainable development, it requires a governance model that includes local governments as well as local businesses, both private and not-for-profit, working with local democratic and social partner structures to ensure that local voices are heard and that the long-term vision can be successfully implemented.

The experience of the EESC/EC European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform and the governance model of the Food Policy Councils could serve as an inspiration for effective cooperation between all stakeholders at the local level – the EESC will support and facilitate such cooperation.

Civil society organisations, including LEADER and LAG-s should develop local rural and urban partnerships to create economic, social and environmental opportunities and to foster a better understanding of interdependencies.

More investment for local pilot projects and pan-European incentives and prizes for progressive examples that demonstrate inclusive agreements should be funded, and the EESC will push for this.

The key to delivering the vision is having a fully funded Action Plan with clear targets and dates for transparent measurement.

In the debate on the role of stakeholders playing in contributing to the Pact and the Vision, she mentioned the possible role of networks in different fields, f. e. in the area of transport and mobility network for sustainable mobility CIVINET Slovenia-Croatia-SEE, which is also dealing with rural mobility and rural-urban connections.

More information

Conference Website: Rural Pact Conference | Landsbygdsveckan

Agenda: Agenda | Landsbygdsveckan

List of speakers: Speakers | Landsbygdsveckan


EESC opinions and useful links






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