Consolidated policy framework and governance models for synergies in rural-urban linkages
Increasing urbanisation and the transformation of rural economies and communities result in new types of rural-urban interaction and dependency, to which policies and governance approaches still have to fully adapt. Consolidated evidence is needed to assess the impact of such interaction on rural growth potential (in which there is an increasing interest worldwide) and understand, in concrete and operational terms, how linkages and dependencies between urban and rural activities affect the creation of added value and jobs. Recent studies have provided some evidence that well-functioning relationships between urban and rural areas can lead to higher growth rates in both. They may also deliver more sustainable, integrated and inclusive forms of development, building on local assets and natural resources to improve adaptation and resilience to global change. There is a need for thorough understanding and a consolidated conceptual framework is needed to tailor policy intervention at different scales so as to maximise rural job and growth creation on the basis of synergistic interaction.
Building on the EU typology of urban and rural areas and on the outcomes of previous studies on rural-urban linkages, proposals should consolidate a conceptual and policy framework adapted to the diversity of European needs, including a well-argued approach to defining functional areas. They should analyse how European rural areas interact with other (in particular, urban) areas in their region or beyond, exploring endogenous conditions that enable them to interact and quantifying the importance of these connections for the rural economy and society. Activities should involve case studies covering a diverse set of territorial contexts and scales of analysis describing practical linkages between rural and urban activities, mutual dependencies, competitive or synergistic relationships, the distribution of value-adding production steps between rural and urban areas and the institutional and policy context. Proposals should involve participatory research identifying concrete opportunities for greater synergies and cooperation between urban and rural activities and communities, bottlenecks impeding synergistic development and concrete solutions to remove these bottlenecks. Activities should assess the effectiveness of a variety of existing or emerging governance approaches and instruments, including those provided by the European structural and investment funds, looking at official authorities but also at informal governance groups (e.g. local action groups). Concrete outputs could be a set of governance models and tools adapted to different types of situation. Such models should cater for better economic development as well as for modernisation of service delivery.
Activities should look at economic, environmental and social linkages and dependencies in an integrated way and examine various territorial settings, covering various forms of territorial interaction beyond city-hinterland relationships, including networks of small market towns and other types of more distant, cross-border or international interaction.
Projects should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach', involving local development or economic development bodies in rural and urban areas or representatives of both rural and urban economic players. Activities should involve engagement with government bodies at the appropriate scale, and with businesses and society. Targeted communication activities and easy-to-use policy-oriented outputs and training material will ensure maximum uptake of the results during the lifetime of the project and beyond. Networking activities between case-study areas and other areas interested in rural-urban synergies and leading to longer-term cooperation may be envisaged. Some cooperation activities with projects financed under topic RUR-2-2017 could be included.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Results are expected to improve policies for the management of rural-urban linkages through:
- consolidation of a policy-oriented conceptual framework allowing the quantitative and qualitative description of a wide range of economic, environmental and social interactions and the definition of functional areas;
- improved understanding of functional rural-urban linkages and how these translate into varying development patterns, helping to explain growth and employment performance and sustainability;
- identification of opportunities for greater cross-sectoral cooperation and synergies; and
- provision of:
- a set of successful and transferable governance models applicable to different types of situation and rural settings;
- appropriate policy recommendations to enhance the development of these governance models at various scales; and
- communication and training material to facilitate dissemination of projects outcomes and foster their uptake by a significant number of relevant authorities across Europe.
Better managed urban-rural relationships, improved governance and increased cross-sectoral cooperation will enable further growth and job creation in rural areas in the long term.