The major aim was to make a valuable contribution to the socio-economical improvement of rural areas and the revitalisation and fortification of communities in decline in the North Sea Region, putting rural development to work for jobs, growth and sustainability.
A key deliverable and added value of Vital was that the pilot results were converted to one transnational, transferable working method/standard to develop new projects on rural development, about other subjects, in other regions and in other periods. On the basis of a dissemination marketing strategy, this project development tool was promoted by an implementation team to other regions in Europe27.
Since the reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy in 2003/2004, rural development is playing an increasingly important role in helping rural areas to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges of the 21st century. The EU member states are encouraged to work towards a more sustainable rural development - in line with the Goteborg Strategy - to boost growth and create jobs in rural areas, in line with the Lisbon Strategy.
The Vital partners encountered in their regions more or less mutually comparable socio-economical problems as regards growth, jobs and sustainability, which were summarized in three themes:
- lack of economic development and innovation
- negative or insufficient exposure of their region
- downswing in the level of services and amenities.
However, local and regional authorities were too small to solve these challenges. Acting on their own and with too limited resources they could only present partial solutions.
To break through this deadlock, Vital developed and disseminated in transnational co-operation a transferable general working standard to set up (future) sustainable projects on rural development: the Rural Power Pack. This pack was developed, implemented and tested on the basis of the experiences and tangible results of three dynamically interconnected trails of intervention:
- empowering SMEs for a better economic climate
- branding the qualities of the region to improve the overall perception
- optimizing the level and quality of (social and health) services.
The Rural Power Pack integrated the co-operative agreement approach for public private partnership - cross-sectoral, top-down and bottom up - as the common standard for (international) co-operation. In the co-operative agreement approach, the different stakeholders drew up agreements with targets/conditions on how to work together to reach the jointly formulated goals within an agreed time period.