Juan Antonio Lázaro: “We may be talking about one of the most effective measures in the fight against depopulation”

The manager of the RDG Bajo Nalón (Asturias) leads the workshop ‘A Spanish experience on Rural Development: the Rural Ticket’

The ‘Rural Ticket’ is one of the first workshops that have been completed with the registration of ERP2019. It is led by Juan Antonio Lázaro Menéndez, manager of the Bajo Nalón Rural Development Group, integrated in the Asturian Network of Rural Development (READER), hostess of the European Rural Parliament edition of Candás. The Rural Ticket is a pioneering initiative in Spain that facilitates economic diversification beyond agricultural activity. Lázaro has also been coordinator of different INTERREG programmes related to Atlantic Salmon.

What is the Rural Ticket?

The rural ticket is a non-refundable aid granted under the LEADER 2014-2020 programme in the Autonomous Community of the Principality of Asturias for self-employment. It supports the creation of the promoter’s own job, with a grant of € 25,000, which will probably increase in future calls, being a pioneer in Spain.

Is it compatible with other grants?

Within the same program LEADER is compatible with other investment aids related to the business idea, as well as others allowed in the Regime Regulator of the aids, as long as they do not have European co-financing. The rural self-employed ticket is aimed at job creation, while traditional aids are aimed at investment in the acquisition of physical assets and equipment to facilitate the start up of the business.

“The Ticket comes to cover the social costs of the employment generated”

What needs does it come to cover?

The limitations imposed by the current regulations, at European, state and regional level, often hinders the acquisition of certain goods or investments in intangibles, important for the initial implementation of the business idea, such as second-hand goods or transfers, which would help the promoter in starting his initiative. The Ticket covers the social costs of the employment generated, plus a complementary economic contribution, aimed at the person receiving the aid, can allocate their own resources to investments related to their business idea.

Does it reduce bureaucracy?

This new initiative notably reduces the bureaucratic burden in the processing of the file, as it avoids invoices, payments and other procedures that slow down and complicate the process. Less bureaucracy and more effectiveness is what is achieved with the Rural Self-employed Ticket, since the checks on the objectives and indicators that are pursued are obtained through the presentation of a simple list of documents.

“This new initiative notably reduces the bureaucratic burden in the processing of the file”

Is it exportable?

As the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) regulations already provide for this, it is an initiative that can be exported wherever the funds are applied, although it should first be covered by the associated state and regional regulations and the mandatory Rural Development Programme (RDP).

Can it be seen as a measure to combat depopulation and encourage the diversification of territories?

We may be talking about one of the most effective measures in the fight against depopulation in rural areas, since it involves creating a job and, in all probability, settling or bringing new inhabitants into it. The Rural Self-employed Ticket always means the diversification of the economic activity of the rural environment, as it is oriented towards non-agricultural activities, increasing services or attracting new industrial activities.

“The Ticket always means the diversification of the economic activity of the rural environment, as it is oriented to non-agricultural activities”

What has been achieved with this measure?

The application of the Rural Self-employed Ticket has meant the creation of a good number of direct jobs, avoiding the departure of women and men to urban environments, which is already a resounding success. It has been possible to innovate the concept of traditional aid, linked to previous investments and expenses, attending to a latent demand for a long time, providing resources in the most complicated moment for a business, in its initial phase.

Are there examples to be highlighted through the Ticket?

Each case is different in the aid linked to the Ticket of the Rural Self-employed in Asturias, but all follow a similar pattern. It is not convenient to individualize or to put some in a different plane to another one, all achieve their objective and each one of them has a history behind, with the addition of being developed in the rural means.

What expectations do you have about the ERP?

The ERP is an ideal framework for analysing the characteristics and results that are being obtained with the Rural Self-employed Ticket, with the aim of improving it and exporting it to other areas of the EU. We must also evaluate the potential of the applicable administrative procedure, analysing the possibility of extrapolating it to other types of aid, always seeking greater efficiency and the reduction of the associated bureaucratic network.