The Minister of Mobility and Digital Transformation of Castilla y León has demanded in the Committee of the Regions an active participation of the European regions in the programming of the future cohesion policy and positive discrimination for territories with large size and demographic dispersion that favors elimination of the coverage gap and sustainability of public passenger transport and the road infrastructure network.
In her speech today before the Territorial Cohesion Policy and Budget Commission, in the Committee of the Regions, in Brussels, the Minister of Mobility and Digital Transformation, María González Corral, stressed that digital transformation is presented as “a fundamental tool to advance balanced and sustainable development of the territory and a key element for true equality of opportunities for citizens, regardless of their place of residence”.
In this context, the counselor has defended the need to have regulatory mechanisms and criteria in the use of European funds that “benefit those territories that have a large extension and dispersion of population centers, as is the case of Castilla y León” and has requested that “these criteria be taken into account in the design of the structural funds of the European Union”.
González Corral has assured that the Community is committed to digital transformation, but needs “a new and reinforced European policy for the new programming period, which takes into account the vulnerabilities, but also the great opportunities for a land like ours.” Therefore, he has considered need “to have more financing and the ability to intervene directly in its programming”.
Another of the issues addressed by the counselor in her intervention at the Committee of the Regions has been the need to eliminate the coverage gap that exists in the Community, “whose promotion in some programs is in the sole hands of the State, an administration with exclusive powers in terms of extension, both Broadband and Mobile”. González Corral has stated that he has missed “positive discrimination for territories with geographical and demographic handicaps, which comes directly from European regulations.”
Success stories in Castilla y León
During her intervention, the counselor presented three success stories related to digitalization, implemented in Castilla y León, with European funding, and that have made it possible to reduce the digital divide: CyL Digital Rural Program, Intelligent Rural Territory and Digital Administration.
Regarding the first, focused on digital skills for citizens with the aim of stopping the digital divide, the counselor explained that 10.9 million European funds have been allocated and stated that this program “is a clear example of a useful cohesion”, remembering that, In less than two years, the Board has tripled the number of associated training centers in rural areas – from 71 to 207 – and Castilla y León has positioned itself as a leader in this field at the national level.
Regarding the Intelligent Rural Territory program, financed with 3.9 million euros of European funds, González Corral has detailed its implementation in Castilla y León, with more than 3,000 integrated sensors, distributed in 400 municipalities, and has highlighted its contribution to the improvement of the services that local entities provide to citizens and cost savings in their management.
Regarding the third successful model, the program linked to corporate ICT and digital administration, endowed with 28.8 million euros of European funds, the counselor has indicated that innovative projects are being launched, which will serve to modernize the tools that allow more efficient work for public employees and a more accessible relationship with citizens and companies.
For González Corral, the success of these programs in rural areas has been possible thanks to two elements: “On the one hand, the financial support of European funds, which have contributed and contribute decisively to improving the lives of the people who They live in rural areas; and on the other hand, cooperation and collaboration between associations and entities. We collaborate with provincial councils and city councils, with companies, with the scientific community and universities, with clusters, with hubs and with professional associations. We are firm defenders of cohesion funds for territories with serious and permanent geographical and demographic handicaps”, he concluded.
The advisor’s agenda in Brussels has also included rmeetings with the REPER Digital Transformation advisor (Permanent Representation of Spain before the European Union), Miguel Valle; with the Transport Commissioner of the same organization, Vicente Salvador, and with Pablo Fábregas, member of the cabinet of the Transport Commissioner, Adina Valean.
Among other issues, the counselor has highlighted the need to take advantage of the opportunity offered by elements such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and supercomputing to create synergies between public institutions and companies, which help economic and social development, using as an example the work carried out by SCAYLE in Castilla y León.
Likewise, González Corral has shown that it is essential to determine specific deadlines for the approval of the final regulations of the Atlantic Corridor, as well as the execution of investments that are collected as soon as possible; and also know the possibilities of including modifications to cover those routes that, at this time, do not appear in the project.
Another of the issues that the counselor has put on the table has been the need for financing, both from the Government of Spain and from Europe, to meet the objectives of the European Intelligent and Sustainable Mobility Strategy.
Finally, González Corral has detailed the execution of funds from the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism and has defended the need to make more flexible designs in calls for aid with European funds. In this sense, it has requested that there be more dialogue and participation of the autonomous communities in the design of these calls.