Rural areas represent most of Europe's territory (91%) and population (59%). When measuring against socio-economic indicators rural areas tend to lag behind urban areas. Lower population and business density make it more challenging to develop private businesses and public services in rural areas.
Rural areas are key to solve many of the big societal challenges such as climate change or the sustainable provision of food, biomass and energy. European rural areas are places of great assets and they can become more attractive if the provision of jobs, basic services, including health and care, connectivity, smart transport, and energy solutions, as well as a favourable climate for entrepreneurship, are ensured. Among the priorities to be addressed, overcoming the digital divide between rural and urban areas and developing the potential offered by increased connectivity and digitisation of rural areas must receive particular attention.
In particular, one key challenge is to overcome the barrier of missing interoperability of smart object platforms and service platforms that share and exploit data between them. This should trigger the emergence of a dynamic rural ecosystem, which in turn can lead to the development of cross-platform applications that ultimately contribute to increasing economic growth in rural areas and support their contribution to tackling societal challenges.