Committee of the Regions President underlined that rural areas have high unemployment and lack of basic infrastructure

Mercedes Bresso, CoR President, stressed the need of not leaving rural areas behind by the EU. According to Ms Bresso, reform proposals for EU regional policy and agriculture are a step in the right direction to close these development gaps. She made this statement at the congress organised by the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Union of Rural Communes of the Republic of Poland within the framework of the Polish Council presidency.

CoR President, Mercedes Bresso, underlined at the European Congress of Rural Municipalities within the framework of the Polish Council presidency, that EU must not leave rural areas behind. The Congress, organised under the patronage of Polish President Bronisław Komorowski, brought together Polish Deputy Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak, Adam Struzik, Marshal of the Mazovia Region, Mariusz Poznański, President of the Polish Union of Rural Communes, CoR members and over 1.000 representatives of rural municipalities. Congress participants adopted the 'Warsaw declaration', which insists on the importance of taking the needs of rural areas into account and to strike the right balance between rural and urban policies, and calls for stronger links between the rural and urban areas to develop a more integrated territorial approach.

Ms Bresso stressed the CoR’s strong support for rural development. She stated that the Committee of the Regions will put all of its energy into ensuring that EU policies, such as the rural development programmes for 2007-2013, continue to offer all rural areas a future and the means by which they can make the best use of their assets. Despite their diversity, Europe's rural areas face many common challenges such as high unemployment, lack of basic infrastructure or depopulation. In addition, according to CoR President, regional and local authorities were still not being treated on an equal footing when it comes to drawing up and implementing EU programmes, despite the positive innovations.

In order to fix up these problems, Ms Bresso suggested that for instance, 20% of the available funding could be allocated to promote social inclusion, reduce poverty and foster economic development. That would be similarly to the proposed minimum threshold of 25% of the rural development fund must be allocated to environmental protection.