Bridging the rural-urban divide: Rural-urban partnerships in the EU

05-01-2016

In today's Europe, the traditional rural-urban dichotomy seems no longer relevant from a territorial development point of view. The boundaries of both rural and urban regions are becoming increasingly blurred, and traditional geographic definitions no longer fully reflect the reality of areas connected by a range of complex socio-economic linkages. At the European level, statistical methods have been refined to better reflect this complexity and provide a clearer view of the European Union's territory according to a new rural-urban typology. Both types of regions have different assets and resources which can be used in a complementary manner. At the rural/urban interface, however, conflicts can arise in connection to land use, whenever cities spread over what used to be agricultural land. Studies on the nature and extent of urban/rural linkages have identified the key concept of 'functional regions', which are defined by their socio-economic integration rather than by administrative boundaries. In all EU Member States, local and regional authorities have built rural-urban partnerships to better harness the potential of such regions. Over the past two decades, the EU has supported numerous projects and studies to assess the value of these partnerships and the way they can contribute to the objective of greater territorial cohesion. The policy framework for 2014-2020, which reflects the objectives of the EU 2020 strategy and offers better coordination of structural funds as well as new tools fostering integrated strategies, puts even greater emphasis on rural-urban interaction, allowing Member States to invest in mixed areas in a more targeted way. Please click here for the full publication in PDF format

In today's Europe, the traditional rural-urban dichotomy seems no longer relevant from a territorial development point of view. The boundaries of both rural and urban regions are becoming increasingly blurred, and traditional geographic definitions no longer fully reflect the reality of areas connected by a range of complex socio-economic linkages. At the European level, statistical methods have been refined to better reflect this complexity and provide a clearer view of the European Union's territory according to a new rural-urban typology. Both types of regions have different assets and resources which can be used in a complementary manner. At the rural/urban interface, however, conflicts can arise in connection to land use, whenever cities spread over what used to be agricultural land. Studies on the nature and extent of urban/rural linkages have identified the key concept of 'functional regions', which are defined by their socio-economic integration rather than by administrative boundaries. In all EU Member States, local and regional authorities have built rural-urban partnerships to better harness the potential of such regions. Over the past two decades, the EU has supported numerous projects and studies to assess the value of these partnerships and the way they can contribute to the objective of greater territorial cohesion. The policy framework for 2014-2020, which reflects the objectives of the EU 2020 strategy and offers better coordination of structural funds as well as new tools fostering integrated strategies, puts even greater emphasis on rural-urban interaction, allowing Member States to invest in mixed areas in a more targeted way. Please click here for the full publication in PDF format