The concept of a European Rural Parliament builds on a tradition of national rural parliaments, developed first in Sweden and now found in a growing number of European countries.

The 1st European Rural Parliament was held in Brussels on 13 November 2013 on the joint initiative of **European Rural Alliance (ERA), **European Rural Community Alliance ERCA and PREPARE Partnership for Rural Europe.  It was organised by the Nordic group of national rural movements, led by Hela Sverige ska Leva (the Swedish rural movement, which first pioneered the idea of national rural parliaments).  It was attended by 140 people from 30 countries representing 70 organisations and 13 pan-European networks, as well as policy makers at national and European levels.

(**In 2014, ERA and ERCA merged to form the European Rural Community Alliance ERCA).

Preparation for the Rural Parliament began many months before the event, by collecting issues and ideas from rural people across Europe.  These were brought together and analysed to identify the main proposals for discussion at the big event.  In a parallel process, a “Think Tank” of experts collated methods and local experiences from Europe’s rural developers : the results were compiled to identify the key success factors for local development and strategic planning and to facilitate the exchange of experience on rural development.  The results of both these processes were presented at the Rural Parliament.

The goal of the 1st European Rural Parliament was to provide a common voice for rural people and to strengthen the rural movement in Europe.   The aims were to:

  • create a common statement that affects European rural policy
  • improve the dialogue between policy makers and the local level
  • exchange experiences of successful local development
  • find a form of European Rural Parliament that would live on and be continued across Europe.

The Rural Parliament presented the rural movements as significant players at a European level, part of civil society and of the social economy, contributing to local development.   It also strengthened links between the rural actors and movements across Europe, and raised the key issues affecting rural areas across Europe, with ideas and proposals for action and policy.  The participants agreed that the initiative should continue, in order to strengthen the voice of rural Europe.  The results are documented in the Report and Statement, which can be found in the Library part of this Website.