Special financial measures to address challenges such as depopulation and brain drain
Rural and mountainous regions, islands, outermost and cross-border regions are among the most affected
Local authorities play a key role in creating tailor-made innovative solutions
Working and living conditions in low income regions must be improved to address brain drain.
With 28 votes for, no vote against and 2 abstentions, MEPs of the Regional Development Committee (REGI) approved draft report reacting to the Commission communication on Harnessing Talent in EU´s regions. They welcome the initiative as well as the “do no harm to cohesion” principle meaning that no action should hamper convergence or contribute to regional disparities. But they also require new resources to address current challenges such as depopulation, skills shortages and brain drain especially of rural areas and those that are in the talent development trap.
Preventing brain drain and promoting gender-equality
Demographic challenges should play a more important role in allocating cohesion funds. MEPs want that the multiannual financial framework post 2027 provides personalized technical assistance to all talent development trap regions and that national co-financing of cohesion funds is excluded from deficit and debt calculations. They also believe that the new programming period requires a new priority area under the European Social Fund+ addressing the brain drain.
They recall that gender related challenges currently prevent half of young generation from tapping into its full potential and thus call for further financial support for regions with lower rates of women participation in the labour market. These regions are also encouraged to support additional measures such as parental leave and affordability of early childhood care to reverse the trend.
Scheme for rural areas and special Erasmus
MEPs support establishment of a rural observatory and want the European Commission to earmark in the next programming period at least 5 % of the cohesion policy resources at the national level for rural areas. The Commission should also create a special scheme under Erasmus+ Programme to enable public administration civil servants to learn how EU, national and local policies are implemented in other EU countries.
According to MEPs, member states, local authorities and regions are key in coming up with innovative tailor-made solutions to motivate young people, provide them with training opportunities and stimulate creation of quality jobs.They also encourage improving access to and provision of quality public and social services in the regions such as health, education or transport opportunities, which are key in addressing the brain drain.
Following the committee vote, rapporteur Cristina Maestre Martín De Almagro (S&D, ES) said: “In the framework of the European Year of Skills, this report is a further step in the European Parliament's commitment to attract talent to areas in economic decline and affected by the brain drain. The text adopted today highlights the need to provide tailor-made training adapted to the demand and economic reality of the areas concerned. The report defends the development of public services as a way to combat rural exodus, this being one of the determining factors in terms of population retention.
EU population will decrease from 446.8 million in 2022 to 419.5 million in 2100 leading to a shrinking working age population in the EU, with a loss of additional 35 million people by 2050. This process will trigger new and growing regional and territorial disparities. The European Commission presented its communication on Harnessing Talent in EU´s regions in January 2023 in scope of the European Year of Skills. The aim of the initiative is to put the investment in a talented workforce at the core of EU policy making.
Draft report will be voted on by the European Parliament plenary at one of its upcoming meetings.