The 2nd Phase of ERP activities
Following the success of the First European Rural Parliament, the Co-initiating organisations, ERCA and PREPARE began in early 2014 to lay the groundwork for the Second European Rural Parliament to be held in 2015. They invited the European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD) to join them as co-initiator of the event, in order to strengthen and extend the range of countries and partner organisations.
The three co-initiating bodies then resolved that the campaign should become truly a pan-European effort, extending beyond the European Union to embrace all other European countries which might wish to take part. They saw 2015 as a timely moment to launch this wider initiative, because it would see the start of the new programme of the European Union, with policies and actions at national level which are highly relevant to the well-being of rural communities. Many countries outside the EU were also set to review and extend their policies. Rural communities throughout the continent could benefit from exchanges of ideas and good practice in rural development.
This wider perspective prompted the ERP leaders to seek the patronage of the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, who agreed that the campaign could come under his auspices. We then secured funding for the ERP 2015 campaign from the European Commission through its Europe for Citizens fund. We invited national partners to apply for the privilege of hosting the Second European Rural Parliament; and in January 2015 we launched the campaign of preparation for that event.
The ERP 2015 Campaign
At the core of the European Rural Parliament 2015 campaign was a simultaneous series of national campaigns, designed to gather (in each European country) an ‘upward cascade of ideas’ from rural communities. These national campaigns were pursued in 34 countries, including all but four EU member states, plus all the Western Balkan countries, Moldova and Turkey. The campaigns were run (in each country) by a civil-society network or individual rural NGO, chosen from among members of the ERCA, PREPARE and ELARD networks. In each country, this ‘cascade’ started at local level, was gathered in counties and regions, and then synthesised at national level into a report. This report, prepared in the national language, was for use by the national partner in campaigning within their own country. But it was also reflected in an English-language version, submitted to the ERP coordinators.
These national reports were then synthesised by the ERP coordinators into an overview, “ALL Europe shall live”. In the autumn of 2015, this document formed the starting-point for drafting the European Rural Manifesto to be submitted to the Second European Rural Parliament. The Manifesto was sent in first draft to all the European and national partners in September 2015, with an invitation to comment and to add ideas. It then went through an iterative process of further improvement before and during the Rural Parliament.
During the lead up to the 2nd ERP associated events were held in many countries.
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