Speech by Adrián Barbón, President of the Principality of Asturias
The President of the Government of the Principality of Asturias, Adrián Barbón, who gave the inaugural speech of the 4th European Rural Parliament, said that he was very clear about a series of aspects, where the real voice of the inhabitants of the rural world must be heard. And, of course, taken into account by those who decide policies at the highest levels.
Barbon said in his speech that “it is imperative for Europe to listen to the rural world today. The path towards a balance between growth and the protection of the planet cannot be explored with deaf ears for farmers, cattle ranchers, fishermen and inhabitants of villages, towns and villages”.
“The path towards a balance between growth and the protection of the planet cannot be explored with deaf ears for farmers, cattle ranchers, fishermen and inhabitants of villages, towns and villages”
He acknowledged that there is a lot of talk about industries and cities but the reason, in his opinion, is obvious: they are the ones that “will have to change their production model in the short term, other transport habits are imposed or areas are restricted to traffic…”. Something that is important, “but let us not forget that the equation of climate change cannot be solved without including the variable of the rural milieu. Let us not fall into the error of thinking of an economic paradigm without rural areas”.
For Adrián Barbón, it is no less important “that the governors understand -and let us make it understood- that the destiny of the rural milieu is not to be reduced to a theme park, a territory for weekends in perpetual demographic winter, but to recover its condition of space of opportunities, where it is possible to promote emerging initiatives and whose competition is essential to ensure sustainability”.
The President of the Principality of Asturias framed and related his speech with the celebration of the European Rural Parliament and the European Rural Youth Parliament in November with the United Nations Summit on Climate Change to be held in Madrid next December, “a relevant event because never before has there been such collective awareness of the urgency of halting global warming”. And he highlighted the awareness of a new economic order installed in the most informed and mobilised layers of society “those that embody Greta Thunberg’s youth protest”.
“Some of us argue that it should be associated with a new green deal that promotes the hegemony of renewable energies, energy efficiency and the fight against pollution, among other requirements for achieving a more sustainable world,” said Barbón, who asked the public if this “crucial, risky and stimulating change” can be designed with its back to the rural milieu: “What role does it have in this new green deal that we advocate?”.
“The destiny of the rural milieu is not to be reduced to a theme park, a territory for weekends in perpetual demographic winter, but to recover its condition of space of opportunities”
Barbón wanted to highlight some experiences which, in his opinion, “show us the right direction”, referring to the specific case of Asturias led by the Asturian Network for Rural Development (READER), host of both Rural Parliaments, and its eleven local action groups. Thus he referred to “pioneering initiatives stand out, such as the rural entrepreneur’s ticket, conceived to promote diversification, create employment and fix population. I remember, by the way, that my government is prepared to increase the ticket endowment by 40%, now set at 25,000 euros”. It was not in vain that the rural ticket was the focus of one of the twenty-one workshops held during the European Rural Parliament.
Aware also of the importance of generational change, which he described as “an essential priority”, he said that the Asturian government has proposed an amendment to the Rural Development Programme (RDP) in order to increase the aid for incorporating young people into the countryside from the current €50,000 to a maximum of €75,000. “We will accompany this aid with training plans to facilitate the success of the projects. I stress this with all my ambition: we want young people and the countryside to be able to go hand in hand, without being condemned to be surprised“.
The Asturian president did not forget the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in his speech either, which is immersed in negotiations for the new period 2021-2027. “From the Government of Asturias we will call for it has sufficient budget to support the income of farmers and stockbreeders and to generate employment and activity. We will also propose the application of positive discrimination mechanisms for mountain areas and small farms”, he explained.
Adrián Barbón thanked Candás and Asturias for choosing to host these debates that are so important for the future of rural Europe and asked that “from Candás listen to their powerful voice, full of reasons, so that the future of Europe is not designed behind the backs of the rural world”.