Rural depopulation: Spain will not be viable if no more children are born

"Escapad tender people, that this land is sick, and do not expect tomorrow what he did not give you yesterday," Serrat sang. The verses of him drew the aban

Rural depopulation: Spain will not be viable if no more children are born

"Escapad tender people, that this land is sick, and do not expect tomorrow what he did not give you yesterday," Serrat sang. The verses of him drew the abandonment of the peoples of Spain and today, exactly forty years after the launch of his song People's White - and pandemic by means - rural depopulation in Europe represents one of the greatest challenges for all countries of the Union. However, despite the ravages of Coronavirus, in the new economic policies of Brussels, and together with the momentum of the Next Generation EU funds, a large-scale execution plan is raised to reverse the consequences of rural depopulation, as well as to improve The quality of life of its inhabitants and promote the return to the peoples. One of its weapons will be digitization.

The Cycle Europe Green and Digital, which responds to the global need to develop a more committed society with the environment, is made up of a series of days focused on issues of various sectoral interests, where the greatest challenges and challenges at the sustainability level are discussed and in which authorities, institutions and companies participate. Thus, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Elmundo.es, the meeting was organized to reverse Spain depopulated; For a new territorial connection, which featured the Star Intervention of Commissioner of Cohesion and Reforms of the European Union, Elisa Ferreira.

The Act sponsored by Endesa, also counted with the participation of various experts. Among them, Francisco Boya, Secretary General for the demographic challenge in the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge; Miguel Trembury Molina, director of institutional relations of ENDESA; Alejandro Macarón, founder and general manager of the Demographic Renaissance Foundation; Abel Knight, the president of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces; Secondin case, president of the Spanish Rural Development Network; Mercedes Molina, Professor Emerita of Human Geography at the Complutense University of Madrid; and Ginés de Rus, Professor of Economics applied at the University of Las Palmas and Associated Researcher in Feda. The debate was moderated by Miguel ORS, economically.

The rural depopulation of Spain is one of the main problems that the country faces. The way we live has changed and with it the Spanish demography. "In the nineteenth century, more than half of the population worked in the field, however, now it is only 2% of population to produce all of the food we consume," said the moderator.

In this context, the population focuses on cities, where salaries are more competitive and productivity is higher. For this reason, the externalities of this situation flow both in rural depopulation and in the abandonment of the environment, unleashing serious environmental, social and economic consequences that are extrapolated to fatalities such as the great fire in Portugal in 2017. However, cities are not Execent from externalities such as pollution, jams and other problems. Thus, the debate focused on discussing the stretch of political decisions that have led rural areas a situation of abandonment and the seriousness that this implies for the future of the country, adding as a key factor, the low birth that accompanies this crisis .

"Give me a lever long enough and a place to promote it and I will move the earth." With this quote from Archimedes, ELISA FERREIRA put the new territorial cohesion policy of the European Union in the face of European funds. For Ferreira, cohesion policy is that lever, and a policy of "the most important" for Europe to ensure a sustainable, digital and inclusive change. In this context, "in the European Program 2014-2020, cohesion policy has represented 17% of public investment in Spain; 1 out of 6 euros of public investment has contributed by cohesion policy," said Ferreira.

The Commissioner has pointed out to Spain as one of the main beneficiaries of European assistance facing Covid-19. "Spain has received three billion euros in funding, almost two billion euros in personal protective equipment and 2,200 respirators", as well as "10 billion euros per year of investment in cohesion policy to promote a green policy and Digital, "he said. For Ferreira it is essential to perform the "digital literacy" of individuals and companies since "only 1 out of 5" is prepared for the transition.

Ferreria pointed out a clear paradigm shift: Investments are experiencing a gradual change of a traditional growth model based on hard investments in physical infrastructure, a soft investment model. For the Commissioner, the focus is now on the economy based on knowledge and human capital. "In the traditional model, two thirds of the European Regional Development Fund have been intended for hard infrastructure, compared to only one third in soft. This has changed and these proportions have been invested: two thirds of investments are focused on investment, innovation , digitization of SMEs and an increasingly low carbon economy. This means that the cohesion policy has changed and that it will make it even more, "he narrated.

Spain will be a great beneficiary of funds, and Ferreira provided the figures: during the new programs this year our country will receive more than 35 billion euros of the cohesion policy and 70 billion subsidies of the recovery and resilience fund. This will mean more than 2,200 euros of investment for each man or child in Spain, "a unique opportunity in a generation to boost the green and digital revolution," she said.

In Europe, rural areas harbor 137 million inhabitants, representing 30% of the European population and face the unpopulation and economic decline. These areas cover more than 80% of the territory of the EU. "Rural areas are key to our sustainability, transport, food and sustainable agriculture goals," she said. Although these have different characteristics, and although some thrive economically, 61% of the rural population lives in a region in decline. Ferreira emphasizes that there is a difference of up to 50 percentage points between the average of GDP in rural areas and urban areas, with the problems of a young population that abandons these places, an aging population, and low birth.

However, for Ferreira the pandemic has opened a possibility that could "represent a great opportunity" to transform the reality of these places: work on remote. "Teleworking could make urban and rural centers compete on equal terms, but to take this opportunity, it is necessary to make important investments," he warned, referring to connections, improvement of health services, innovation and support for young people. In this line, he took the opportunity to highlight the work of the EU in areas such as Cantabria, Castilla y León and Castilla La Mancha, and highlighted the importance of the involvement of local people. "We need architects and designers of the future. That is why I ask the premises to get involved in programming and execution, providing ideas and energy to better reconstruct after the crisis," he urged.

For Mercedes Molina, traditional territorial cohesion "has not worked". In his opinion, Spain requires that the transformation of its economy be associated with a new management of the territory, since the transition from an agrarian economy, to one industry-based and services has generated "short-term economic growth where GDP, Rent and employment were fundamental without seeing the costs associated with that growth. " For Molina, that model, sustained in the concentration of investment and production of employment and population in cities, also gave rise to urban speculation, and a "clearly urban" legislation. This launched the bases of "a competitiveness gap between the rural and the urban that triggered a forced socioeconomic migration," she sentenced.

"The city was the place of efficiency and progress and innovation and the rural world remained relegated to maintaining its basic productions without a value chain," he said. For Molina the depopulated territories are "the paragidma of inequality" and pointed to the political efforts of the last decades: "This problem was visible in the year 78 and the EU Framework Program of 94-99 said it had to be in the Devulated territories of Spain had to be invested in infrastructure, environment and heritage but this recommendation was ignored, "said the professor.

However, Molina sees a change and reiterated the requirement of a new economy and a new territorial management "where intermediate cities and rural territories, in close symbiosis are protagonists." In this sense, the Emeritian professor urged a state pact "with content" that empowers rural actors. "If in moments of bonanza, we have been able to generate so much inequality, we can do otherwise in a context of crisis?" She asked.

Since its economic vision, Ginés de Rus expressed that "the increase in density of workers in urban areas increases productivity, therefore concentration from the point of view of economic growth is good". In addition, for RUS the increase of connectivity and the improvement of infrastructure can increase urban concentration. "The last report of the Independent Fiscal Responsibility Authority (AIRF) shows that provincial disparities have been triggered by the transport policy. That is, it is possible that the infrastructure improvement increases that concentration," he said.

For Case Second, trends change more: "More and more people are going to live at an hour from the city where they have work and choose to live in rural areas. However, a person who lives in the center of Madrid and one Who lives in the field have the same right to have health, education and social services, "he said.

"The norm has been to educate our children to leave the peoples but we have never thought that what we needed was that they would come back; Back was a symbol of failure, and that is a topic that must be overcome," said Francisco Boya . For him, it is essential that there is a framework of cooperation between the public and private sector so that it allows to generate the conditions that avoid that talent escape from rural peoples.

Alejandro Macarón added a factor to the phenomenon of depopulation: low birth rate. "If you talk about empty Spain, yes or do you have to talk about birth," he emphasized. Macarón stressed that of the factors that make up the demographic challenge, this is the most serious. "In 2019 the provinces that lost population by Spanish migration would not have lost anything if they had had 2.1 children per woman," he said, "Spain is not going to be viable if no more children are born." In addition, he put his finger on the phenomenon of foreign migration.

"We have migration with less economic cohesion with the native population of all Western Europe, where there is the largest average income differential between immigrants we have from any country and the native population," he said. In this sense, for the expert it is essential that immigration be integrated very well with the local population. "We have low rates of mixed marriages, especially with population of African and Asian origin. People have a bias of affinity, but if that fusion is not given, we will have ghettos," he warned.

"This is going to be a boom and the National Plan for Energy and Climate estimated that by 2030, 74% of electricity has to be renewable, that means we have to multiply by 2, 5 times the wind and solar energy capacity that It has Spain, and this will be done in remote areas, "he narrated from Endesa, Miguel Tremor. The company, which has launched numerous initiatives in view of the increase in the demand for renewable energy, ensures that it is committed to rural environment through the recovery and resilience plan. "90% of the employment that is generated will be local," Ensured Tremoyury.

"There is a tortico debate because the people of the rural areas, who have always felt ninguenada, now see how companies come to take advantage of the beauty of the rural and their resources to generate energy for the big cities, it can not be that they remember only Now, we have left without services and without opportunities to the rural world and now we went to him for many things, "said Subino Case. He also pointed out that "no one, nowhere where he lives, be urban or ural, wants to dispense with the welfare state". "We can not forget that the model that has generated this inequality has been created with public investments," Molina supported him.

64% of the rural municipalities of Spain lost population continuously. 3961 municipalities, 48% have a density less than 12 inhabitants per km square, but 3135 town halls, 38% of the total, do not reach 8 inhabitants per square km. These were the worrying figures that Abel Caballero gave. "How many resources do we want to dedicate to the depopulation phenomenon? We have to dedicate more resources to small and medium municipalities so that they can launch forms of quality of life and different industries and industries," he urged.

In addition, in an instance by visible the problem criticized the fact that health authorities use mass vaccination points in cities and forget the peoples, who must move several kilometers round trip to receive immunization. "That is an example of what we do not have to do, we must take services to rural areas because but the depopulation phenomenon is going to accelerate; In institutional terms, a City Council of 50,000 people than the City of Madrid is equally important , he snapped.

Most speakers agreed that management policies have been a failure that, through public money, have financed the creation of territorial inequality whose statistics shout comprehensive solutions that could be satisfied with a "change of mentality" and the arrival of European funds. The question now, is that the verses of Joan Manuel Serrat are nothing more than a portrait of the past and not a premonition of the future that awaits us.

Updated Date: 25 July 2021, 06:51

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