Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-01-17-Speech-1-072"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, the proposal presented by the Commission, in accordance with its mandate, is a reasonable starting point for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. I would like to point out, however, that this starting point indicates to us the challenges which face us: maintaining a population in rural areas, given the changes taking place in all types of economic activity owing to agriculture’s increasing lack of importance amongst the various sources of income for rural society. This, as well as the deficiencies in the networks of infrastructures and services and a generally very low level of employment, which furthermore is seasonal and lacks diversity, exacerbates the exodus from rural areas. The consequences do not inspire hope. It is the young people who are disappearing, who are getting an education and finding work outside of the rural areas, all of which has an unfavourable effect on those areas. This lack of infrastructure is also an obstacle to the establishment of companies and the creation of jobs. We have to remember that rural areas represent almost four fifths of the territory of the European Union. Agriculture only provides 5.5% of employment in the Union. Furthermore, three quarters of our farm workers are part-time and require supplements to their incomes. For this reason, one of the most important and essential objectives which we should set in the European Union is to make efforts to create new jobs in rural areas, outside of the agricultural sector, in sectors such as rural tourism, sport, culture, heritage conservation, the conversion of businesses, new technologies, services, etc. However, even though the role of agriculture is not exclusive, it is still essential, not only to prevent economic and social disintegration and the creation of ghost towns, but also because farmers play a fundamental role in managing the land, in preserving biodiversity and in protecting the environment. Therefore, we support the establishment of an agricultural and rural development policy which is consistent with the objectives we have set. We want rural areas, at the dawn of the 21st century, to be competitive and multi-functional, both with regard to agriculture and with regard to opening up to the diversity of non-agricultural activities. It is important to prioritise general criteria for land planning and demographic equilibrium, and to bear in mind the conclusions of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development on the five fundamental issues, which have been only partly taken up by the Committee on Transport, Regional Policy and Tourism in its points 16 and 17. In conclusion, I would ask the Commission to take these five points into account when establishing the conclusions on the four pillars because I believe that, for the European Union, maintaining the population in rural areas must be one of the priority objectives."@en1

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