The project stems from some needs common to all project partners identified in the project planning phase. In fact, the partners involved are characterized by two distinctive features: an aging population and the abandonment of the areas involved by young people who move elsewherein search of work given the rural character of the area. Youth unemployment, an innovative political agenda and sharing of expertise on how to improve the competitiveness of the territories are the main challenges that the project partners want to deal with at the transnational level in order to analyze and share innovative and strategic practices. The actors involved in the analysis of economic and social context have been and will be numerous and of various levels: political and administrative decision-makers, young people, economic actors and businesses in the rural sector. The project aimsto find common solutions to the needs and problems identified and shared by the partners in the identification phase, through a comparison on Rural Development practices that will make citizens active participants in the project and bearers of innovation and participation in the local community through a process of transnational exchange.
The theme of rural development is closely related and relevant to EU policies from the Europe 2020 strategy to to the policies of Rural and Regional Development of the European Union (see the Commission’s document “The CAP towards 2020”). The network will provide an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of what the European Union is doing through its programs and initiatives, thereby enhancing the sense of belonging of the representatives of the target groups involved and encouraging citizens to get closer to the opportunities offered by the EU and increase their civic participation.
Given that the project will address an issue at the heart of EU policies such as the problem of youth unemployment particularly in rural areas, substantial attention will be devoted to the strategies put in place to reduce unemployment, and consequently the migration of young people,in the rural contexts of the various countries involved. In this sense, the target group of producers and farmers also will be helped to improve the competitiveness of their business.
The inclusion of the target group of politicians and local decision makers as participants in the project will help to strengthen both the actual impact of the project that the sustainability of the network in the long run.
Starting from a common analysis the Partnership has identified the following needs: lack of knowledge on competitiveness and promotion of the territories, lack of opportunities for young people, insufficient knowledge of young farmers on the potential of small local productions, the lack of openness of European citizens and decision-makers.
The overall objective of the project is to increase the attractiveness of the municipalities involved to make the best of their potential in the rural sector.
The specific objectives are:
- Increase knowledge on the practices of strengthening competitiveness, in order to better promote local tourism and rural resources through new local and international networks;
- Increase the knowledge and skills of young farmers on the value added of small local productions;
- Increase the opportunities and stimulate young people to be active and involved in the rural sector (and in rural tourism) creating opportunities for participation in the European Union;
- Increased public awareness of the role and importance of the EU in relation to the theme;
- Improve and enrich the knowledge and strategies of local decision makers, expanding their vision through an exchange of practices and experiences at the international level.