PoliRural has developed the Deliverable D1.10. Regional Recommendations, that sets out to help regional teams align their action plans with high-level missions pursued by the EU. It critically examines the concept of mission orientation before turning to the analysis of instruments that drive transition to net zero (the Green Deal), recovery from Covid-19 (Recovery and Resilience Facility), and the development of a new model of agriculture and sustainability (CAP reform, Farm2Fork, biodiversity strategy). It concludes with a set of recommendations linked to the above. Rather than being seen as prescriptive, these recommendations should be regarded as an invitation to explore highlighted issues together with stakeholders in a series of deep-dive workshops, the outcomes of which should guide holistic development of the regional action plan. Below, are presented some conclusions from this Deliverable.
Aligning regional priorities with high-level EU missions
The twelve PoliRural pilots have reached a stage where they need to develop an Action Plan for their region. These Action Plans are documents setting out measures needed to address local challenges and achieve the vision of where the region wants to be in the future. The regional teams must also demonstrate how their Action Plan aligns with high-level EU missions such as transition to net zero, recovery from the pandemic and resilience against future shocks, and the transformation of agriculture based on the principles of fairness and sustainability.
Transition to net zero
The key driver in this area is the European Green Deal. Over the next decades, a lot of jobs will be transformed, many new ones will be created, and some will disappear for good. Industries dependent on fossil fuels have no choice but to evolve while some (e.g., coal mining) are going to be phased out completely. People will be living in more energy-efficient buildings but this will come at a price that some would find unaffordable. All in all, there are lots of uncertainties and risks lurking on the path to carbon neutrality, but the mission also presents many opportunities for cities and regions to negotiate the kind of deal that is good for them and their people.
Recovery from the pandemic
The EU has made sure that recovery from the pandemic is green and digital. Member states are required to allocate at least 37% of the money they get from the Recovery and Resilience Facility to green transition and 20% to digital transition. Although the majority of National Recovery and Resilience Plans have already been assessed by the Commission, it does not mean that regions can do little now to influence how the money will be used. Ultimately, this will be a matter of negotiation. Regions should be proactive in putting forward ideas if they want their communities to get a slice of the pie. This can be done by drawing on the body of knowledge accumulated during the foresight process to make a strong case for investment in their region.
The new model of agriculture
The post-2023 CAP will provide more flexibility to member states to adapt the policy to their specific needs. The foresight approach such as the one practiced in PoliRural can support regions in formulating arguments that can be put forward to national governments as they figure out a way to align CAP with EU and regional priorities. The cascade process is far from straightforward. It is essential to involve CAP experts who can explain the logic of the reform and highlight what has changed and the opportunity that this has created for the reinvention of agriculture and the direction that this is taking in each region. Areas that require special attention are the new conditionalities (e.g., for redistribution, soil protection, biodiversity), the social dimension, the issue of fairness centered around farmers’ income, and the possible negative consequences of the decarbonisation agenda, such as lower yields, reduced crop quality, and threats to farmers’ livelihoods.