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Comprehensive study on mountain areas in Europe

Apr 08, 2004 / alpMedia
The European Commission recently published the results of a study on the economic and social situation of European mountain areas. The study provides an in-depth analysis of mountain areas in 29 countries in Europe, including the EU Member States, the 10 new Member States and Switzerland.
According to the study there are widely differing circumstances applying in mountain areas, although they tend to experience many common challenges linked to low population density, inaccessibility and the relatively high costs of infrastructure provision. By addressing these challenges through well-targeted policies, the Union could contribute to greater territorial cohesion, the study noted.
According to the criteria on which the study is based, around 40% of the total land area of the countries concerned is classified as mountain areas in which almost 20% of the total population lives. Around 60% of the total population lives in or near mountain areas. In most of the mountain areas studied depopulation is greater than in low-lying areas. By contrast large areas of the Alps are characterised by a growing population. The study noted that the economy of Europe's mountain regions is subject to considerable diversity. While agriculture and forestry are often perceived as vital in economic terms and for cultural diversity, employment in other sectors is generally higher, particularly in the service sector.
The study also outlines the many existing policy initiatives in this field, such as sector policies, integrated development policies and a variety of trans-national policies and instruments such as the Alpine and Carpathian Conventions. In many mountain areas the new information and communications technologies provide new opportunities for development, and there could be much to gain from the co-ordination and dissemination of experiences between regions and countries.
Source and complete text of the 200 page study in English: (en)