Work on the six thematic activities, which are receiving support under the EU Europe for Citizens Programme, are underway, as part of the ERP SPARCE Project. Each theme is being led by an ERP Partner organization, and involves many other organisations as project partners. The work with each theme will be undertaken through virtual exchanges with rural citizens, typically involving questionnaires, surveys, workshops and face-to-face meetings between the theme partners. For each theme, at least 250 people will be involved in these exchanges and 25 to 50 citizens, drawn from 6 or more countries, will then take part in ‘lifeshop’, travelling workshops, or other format of meeting. This is designed to provide a strong ‘reality check’ of rural conditions and success stories, and an active multi-national exchange of ideas. This will aim to clarify key issues and identify and publicise case studies. The work with each theme will aim to find consensus on how citizens can participate in shaping policy and taking action related to each theme. The results will be discussed at the 3rd European Rural Parliament and disseminated throughout Europe.

Information about the ongoing work on each theme will be posted here

Below is a short presentation of each of the six initial thematic projects, currently underway:

1. Provision for young people in rural areas, and preparing for a European Rural Youth Parliament
2. Welcoming refugees and economic migrants in rural areas
3. Tackling poverty and social exclusion in rural areas
4. Sustaining rural services and infrastructure
5. Strengthening local and sub regional economies
6. Integrated rural development, and promotion of LEADER and Community-Led Local Development

1. Provision for young people in rural areas, and preparing for a European Rural Youth Parliament

This theme is led by the Village Action Association of Finland, SYTY and the Latvian Rural Forum, LRF.  The Project Managers are Kim Smedslund of SYTY and Anita Selicka of LRF.

The main activities are:

  • gathering ideas and case studies related to the needs of young people in rural areas, and how these needs may be met
  • building a network of young people and their organisations in rural areas within the framework of the European Rural Parliament
  • including events for young people at local, regional and national levels
  • making the youth thematic activities an on-going part of the ERP process.

The two organisations leading the theme have established a good cooperation with other European youth-organisations – MJARC and 4H. And together they are planning the first European Rural Youth Parliament to be held in Latvia 11th August 2017.

Please find and participate in the theme survey here for individuals – and here for our ERP partners

symbol top

2. Welcoming refugees and economic migrants in rural areas

This theme is led by Hela Sverige ska leva, HSSL – the Swedish rural movement, and the Project Manager is Josefin Heed of HSSL. The work will involve project partners from Austria, Estonia, Finland, Serbia, Turkey, Hungary and Slovenia. 

The work will gather examples, experience and knowledge from rural Europeans who are working with initiatives to welcome refugees and migrants into their communities.

We are convinced that rural Europe has a great potential to welcome refugees and migrants and provide a good life. We base this on the fact that many rural Europeans have become involved in welcoming activities and by that contributed in creating a better life for migrants and refugees to Europe. For the upcoming 3rd European Rural Parliament, we wish to gather experiences, good examples and thoughts on what has been done and what can be done further in welcoming refugees and migrants in rural areas. We welcome everyone who has experience of participating in activities in rural areas with refugees and migrants to participate in the work. Contribute to the work by doing the survey below and by joining one of our virtual think tanks, please register below.

The survey and the virtual think tank will be presented in a report that will be published before summer.

If you have any questions on the survey, think tanks or the report, please contact Josefin Heed: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Survey: Klick here to do the survey

Virtual Think Tank: Klick here to sign up for the virtual think tanks

As part of the work Josefin has set up both surveys and webinars, and an international event will follow in the autumn.

Please find and participate in the survey here!

Please register for the virtual think tanks here!

symbol top

3. Tackling poverty and social exclusion in rural areas

This theme is led by the Polish Rural Forum, FAOW and will involve partners from across Europe. The Project Managers are Ryszard Kaminski and Urszula Budzich-Tabor of the Polish Rural Forum.  The work will be undertaken through virtual exchanges with rural citizens on experience of enlisting the participation and meeting the needs of socially excluded citizens.

FAOW has established cooperation with universities to participate in the work on this theme, and a two-day practitioners’ workshop was held in Cracow in June 2017 and was attended by approximately 40 practitioners and researchers from Poland and 5 other countries. You can find pictures from the event here

Also a survey on the theme has been designed and you are invited to take part in this survey. You’ll find the survey here.

As an important part of the work with this theme a virtual debate has been initiated, and we welcome you please to participate actively in this debate. You’ll find and participate in the debate here.

symbol top

4. Sustaining rural services and infrastructure

This theme is led by ACRE, Action with Communities in Rural England. The Project Manager is Deborah Clarke of ACRE.

We hope the work can also be combined with work on the themes of “Small Towns” and “Integrated rural development and promotion of LEADER and Community-Led Local Development”

Services and infrastructure are important to everyone, and to rural residents, but raise different issues. Part of the work is to establish which rural services and infrastructure are the most important for people across rural Europe and how such services are provided. The main aims are:

  • to clarify key issues when considering rural services and infrastructure
  • to identify case studies to show how rural services can be sustained by communication
  • to offer conclusions, recommendations and to share knowledge of how citizens can participate in shaping policy and taking action to ensure services.

Together with other ERP partners we have designed a survey, and we welcome you to please participate. You’ll find the survey here

An international event is prepared to take place in Somerset near Bristol in England 6th September hopefully with participation from 5 or more other European countries. The programme can be found here.

symbol top

5. Strengthening local and sub regional economies

This theme is led by the Slovenian Rural Network. The Project Manager is Goran Soster.
Together with other ERP partners Goran Soster is preparing a survey, more information to come.
An international event will be held in Slovenia in connection with the Slovenian Rural Parliament 21st to 22nd September. The theme-event will be held on the 23rd September, more information to come.

The aims of the work are:

  • to clarify key issues on the central theme by surveys, travelling workshops and events
  • to identify successful case-study examples of how rural economies can be strengthened and diversified
  • by reference to those examples, to find out which are the most significant drivers of success, which are the main motives of stakeholders to join the common initiatives, and how citizens can participate in shaping policy and taking action related to this theme.
  • to estimate the potential of the local and sub-regional economies in the areas involved in the survey

All the results and recommendations will be presented in a report available prior to the 3rd European Rural Parliament

symbol top

6. Integrated rural development, and promotion of LEADER and Community-Led Local Development

This theme is led by ELARD, the European LEADER Association for Rural Development. The Project Manager is Kadri Tillemann, ELARD.

The activities are a combination of two themes within the European Rural Manifesto:
Integrated rural development, based on a definition as being an ongoing process involving local stakeholders aiming to improve the lives of people living in rural areas, and for this part of the work the main aim will be:

  • to clarify to what degree development of rural areas is done as an integrated process between stakeholders and central, regional and local authorities
  • to identify case studies to show the differences between top down and integrated development

LEADER and CLLD (Community Led Local Development) principles defined by their advocacy for a territorial, integrated and partnership-based approach to rural development, pursued in a bottom-up and place-based spirit. For this part of the work the main aim will be:

  • to identify case studies to show advantages and disadvantages of using LEADER, CLLD or other methodologies in rural development, as administered today
  • to conclude and declare suggestions to how different methodologies can improve the development of rural areas by involving stakeholders.
  • to seek and provide suggestions to how to improve the use of CLLD and Multifunding

The first international event  for this theme was “Renewing LEADER/CLLD for 2020+” held in Tartu back in November 2016, resulting in the Tartu Declaration. The second international event “Role of bottom-up approach renewing ESI Funds for 2021-2027” was held in Bruxelles 31st May 2017, see programme here.

A survey has been established to find the cases showing good results by using integrated development, this survey was aimed at our ERP Partners and ELARD members, and was completed by 30th June, but you can still find the survey here. Another survey will be established for a broader participation to establish the state of integrated development processes throughout Europe.

symbol top