Territorial evidence and policy advice for the prosperous future of rural areas

Developed in a timely context, this policy paper aims to support the discussions surrounding the future of rural areas, as this is one of the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (for the first semester of 2021). In this respect, this brief should be read in the wider context, as it will connect ESPON – European Territorial Observation Network territorial evidence with Territorial Agenda 2030 priorities through policy recommendations and policy responses for the long-term development of rural areas. This will facilitate the strong intersectoral debate and achieve a territorial implementation of the priorities by reclaiming opportunities and enabling a smart approach to the use of rural areas ’assets’.

So, while the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas will pursue an integrated approach that looks at several critical thematic fields (such as agriculture, climate action, employment, connectivity and digital transformation, cohesion, education, and research and innovation), its development and implementation will be supported by linking it to the framework set out under the Territorial Agenda 2030, and by ensuring the distinct territorial dimension on the path for harmonious policy intervention.

In this policy paper, ESPON provides the territorial evidence (data collected) and knowledge (long-term trends identified) to further support and contribute to designing a prosperous future for rural areas. It does so by approaching the complex territorial interactions from a strategic perspective. On that basis, ESPON further advises on adequate policy measures structured in six cross-cutting domains of the Territorial Agenda 2030. These are particularly valid in rural areas, where economic and social disparities between places and between people, along with environmental risks and pressures, are increasing.

You can also read a shorter version of the policy paper in the attached policy brief.


ESPON Policy brief, Rural areas_short version.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 10.77MB

ESPON Policy paper, Rural areas_long version.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 11.21MB