Segóbriga PoliRural pilot: a bridge between rural regions and European regulation

Within the framework of the PoliRural Project, the twelve pilot regions have drawn up a Regional Action Plan as an important output of the Foresight process. The aim of these plans are proposing solutions to the needs identified in its territory, through a participatory co-creation exercise with the stakeholders of the area.

To guarantee that the proposals in the Action Plan make sense, are logical and explained, and that the proposed policy challenges, measures and actions are suitable to meeting the needs identified in the analysis of the diagnosis and situation of the context of the territory, the regional pilots undertake two evaluations in the PoliRural project: ex-ante and ex-durante evaluations.

The pilot teams together with regional stakeholders and citizens develop a parallel process of mission-oriented transformation. Some remarkable issues arise from these practices, a better definition of the resources and sources of financing, with which the actions foreseen in the Action Plan will be promoted and the contribution from the local level, to achieve the EU missions for rural areas.

In the context of Segóbriga pilot, the dynamics of collaborative and joint work has given the stakeholders the skills they needed to propose ideas and strategies, to promote local development inspired by the principles of sustainability and digitization, according to the European territorial development policy (Green Deal, Long Term Vision for Rural Areas).

PoliRural has also helped Segobriga regions to seek funding sources to carry out their strategies. The “Inventory of policy options” and “Sources of finance” exercises, promoted by CKA, has shown pilots a wide variety of possible sources of financing, many of which the territories have never explored. This has provided an opening of new perspectives and possibilities.

Segobriga has put its Action plan into action. For this, other funds have been used, beyond LEADER, such as regional funds, ERDF funds, Next Generation funds, etc. In relation to Measure Improve the image and promotion of the territory as a sustainable tourist destination, two activities are running now with Next Generation funds: a new website for Segóbriga and the design of a new logo and Merchandising. Regarding Measure Promote entrepreneurship, the territory is already working on the creation of a website of resources and services (available here) at the municipal level, for new companies and entrepreneurs and financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The interactive app for tourism innovation (article included in PoliRural Newsletter #7) and a virtual map with information about touristic assets and hospitality services (bars, restaurants…) in the villages of the territory are actions for the Measure Improving the territory’s tourist offer, from the perspective of environmental sustainability and digitization already running, financed by Horizon2020.

PoliRural has also inspired Segóbriga as a candidate for a call for aid from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plans financed by the Next generation funds for Tourist Destinations in Sustainability strategies. Although PoliRural has greatly helped to boost the involvement of stakeholders in the Foresight process, it is necessary to consolidate a local strategy based on the rural attractiveness of the territory and to ensure our rural areas are being STRONGER, CONNECTED RESILIENT and PROSPEROUS.

Feedback and immediate follow-up on the Rural Pact Conference

The Rural Pact Conference took place in Brussels on 15 to 16 June 2022. 475 people took part in-person, joined by over 300 participants online. Participants included politicians, including EU MEPs, along with local authorities and social and economic stakeholders from EU, national, regional, and local levels of governance, of which 46% actually live in rural areas. The presentations and session recordings are all available here. The purpose of the conference was to engage stakeholders in the design of the Rural Pact, a commitment to achieve of the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas (LTVRA) in ways that suitable ambitious and based on a bottom-up approach. In addition to the meetings and working groups that the EC has organized, and which have served to provide the basis for the LTVRA, the Commission has asked stakeholders to sign a “commitment canvas” indicating their commitment to the LTVRA, describing what they are doing to make it happen, and indicating the milestones they must achieve to making it happen.

This conference is of great relevance for the PoliRural project. A basic goal of the project is to demonstrate the possibility of successfully implementing participative policy processes for rural areas, namely Regional Foresight, leading to action and not just reports. The action plans of the twelve participating regions have been aligned with the language and ambition of the LTVRA. Many of those action plans have already started to take shape. And many of them consists of actions and milestones which could be submitted as part of that region’s commitment to the LTVRA. In others as an important element of the overall Rural Pact. This is an ongoing process and I invite each of the regions taking part in the project to do this immediately by filling out the relevant form on the website of the Rural Pact, and indicating the overall nature of their commitment to:

  • Amplify rural voices,
  • Networking and collaboration,
  • Acting for Rural Areas.

In my view our biggest contribution of the Foresight package that the partner regions have developed is to “amplify rural voices” based on the vision, action plan and road map. The proof of delivery lies in being able to show that the action plans have been adopted by local administration and that their implementation is being followed by the monitoring committees you have set up. This is primarily a contribution to realising the first pillar of the LTVRA, that total regions become “strong.”

Many of the representatives of government administration spoke of the challenge of policy coordination experienced at the level of local government. So, the challenge is not just one of citizens of rural areas talking to local government (the horizontal governance issue). It is also about local government talking to and being heard by central government (the vertical governance issue.) Many of the speakers referred to the low level of consultation between central, regional, and sub-regional governments, on issues such as CAP reform and the Green Deal. We have spoken about this since the start of the PoliRural project and the issue was raised many times, in many session and my many speakers during the Rural Pact conference in June.

The topics we have chosen to address are important and timely and are beginning to get the attention they deserve. Furthermore, the PoliRural project brings effective solutions to the table. So, all twelve regions of the project should sign the commitment canvas, describe what their Action Plan is doing to “amplify voices.”

PoliRural pilot Galilee: Meeting with the Minister of Communications

Following the Eastern-Galilee Action Plan of PoliRural, on Wednesday, 11/5/2022, PoliRural pilot Galilee representatives met with PM Yoaz Hendel, the Minister of Communications, at the Minister’s Office in Jerusalem (and with the Minister’s Adviser – Yoram Halperin) to discuss the upgrading of the Galilee’s digitalization infrastructure. The delegation included Prof Uri Marchaim (MIGAL), Mr Aharon Valensi (consultant for the PoliRural European project and former head of the Upper Galilee Regional Council), Mr Shai Kronenblum (Upper Galilee Regional Council) and Mr Moshe Karko (Eastern-Galilee Cluster of the municipalities).

The meeting revolved around the activities as part of the PoliRural project which deals with the issue of peripheral development. We came with the aim of asking the Minister of Communications to lead a move at the government to turn the Eastern Galilee into a pilot project to upgrade the digitalization infrastructure in order to upgrade the economy in the Galilee, establish start-up companies and bring young families to the Galilee.

We gave a presentation, and presented to the Minister the main points (we sent in advance a list of topics for discussion and the ppt presentation) and the Minister clarified that things are known and clear to him and the purpose is important. Minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel: “We are entering a new digital age. In the last year and a half, we have cleared up the regulatory traffic jams in the deployment of advanced infrastructure, and established in the Knesset Parliament regulatory moves. We are moving the Israeli economy forward, and in a short time Israel will lead the Western countries in terms of communications infrastructure”.

The Israeli government approved the outline plan for deployment of fibre-optic cable networks in Israel, which is critical for the communications market, particularly at a time of crisis. The outline plan deals with setting up of an investment fund financed by the telecommunications carriers to finance deployment in the periphery. The network will substantially improve Internet speeds in Israel and enable many new applications to be introduced, chiefly to accelerate the provision of digital services to both the domestic and enterprise markets.

We submitted to the Minister the work done by the Deloitte company to analyse the needs and solutions that exist today and are required in the future to upgrade the infrastructure. The Minister clarified that there is currently a rapid development of laying of fibre infrastructure in Israel, and we are currently leading the world in the pace of installing digital infrastructure. There are currently about 40 small companies, in addition to the communication’s main companies, competing for tenders for the installation of fibre infrastructure and there is almost no area where the appropriate infrastructure cannot be obtained. Both the Minister and the Adviser (with whom we continued the discussion) stressed that there is currently no limit in installing fibre with “infinite” bandwidth that can allow all activities of companies, or research institutions, and if there are delays with companies, we can contact the Minister and Advisor directly to speed up processes. On the issue of the use of “precision agriculture,” the minister said that it is possible to install a fibre that will reach every plant in the field.

On the issue of 5G, the Minister emphasized that it is an issue that the uses around the world are still unclear, and the ministry gives incentives to all companies that are interested in developing the issue of 5G uses. Development can be important in the field of “remote medicine”. This may be an issue that needs to be promoted with Margalit’s centre in Kiryat Shmona.

The discussion that took place builds an infrastructure for thinking about the next steps required in the Upper Galilee for the implementation of infrastructure development to lead the economic development of the Eastern Galilee. We invited the Minister to visit MIGAL to show him our activities.

Mr. Yoaz Hendel said that Israel is now entering a new digital age. The time has come for us to close the gap and deploy advanced communications infrastructures throughout the country – in the centre, in the periphery, and along the borders. Communications infrastructures are a mighty growth engine for the labour market and for GDP. They facilitate remote work and study and improved living conditions in the periphery of the country.