The European Rural Parliament is modelled on the original idea as established by Sweden, and replicated in other countries at national level. The national rural parliaments are all run by national rural movements, all of which are National Partners in the ERP, and members of ERCA and/or PREPARE. There is accordingly a very strong link between the national and the European rural parliaments, and they are an important part of the overall ERP campaign, with information and ideas being exchanged between them.
The concept of the Rural Parliament was originated by the Swedish rural movement Hela Sverige ska leva HSSL. The very first Rural Parliament was held in 1989. Since then, the idea has spread and, in addition to the European Rural Parliament, there are now 13 rural parliaments held in 12 countries: Sweden, Estonia, Netherlands, Slovakia, Scotland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia. Swedish-speaking Finland, Finland, Albania. New Rural Parliaments are currently planned in Macedonia and Montenegro in 2019.
A ‘Rural Parliament’ is not a formal part of government, nor is it a parliament in the sense of a legislative or decision-making body, and it is apolitical. It is a ‘bottom-up’ process of involvement and debate between the rural people and policy makers to enable better understanding, improved policy and action to address rural issues. It is focused on achieving practical and policy-based outcomes relevant to the challenges and opportunities facing rural people. These outcomes are monitored and further developed in the period between Rural Parliaments.
A rural parliament is not only an event, but a process, which spans a 2 year cycle culminating in a high-profile biennial event – the ‘Rural Parliament’, which brings together all sectors of rural society to highlight issues and discuss rural priorities with each other and with Government. Between the biennial events, work is carried out to identify issues, ideas and proposals from the grassroots of rural communities to the rural parliament followed by actions implemented following the event, including advocacy to government. In this way, they are much more than just a conference. They are powerful in mobilising and gathering people and ideas from the rural communities, and turning these into manifestos for action. They are also a shop window for rural areas and their people.
Information from the different rural parliaments will be posted on the associated web-pages.