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European Rural Manifesto

The climax of the European Rural Parliament 2015 campaign was the adoption of a six-page European Rural Manifesto, which expresses the aspirations and demands of rural communities in 40 European countries.   This Manifesto will form the basis of the continuing campaign, with action by rural communities themselves and advocacy to regional and national governments and to the European institutions.

“It reads like poetry”

“For me, the Rural Parliament, like Christmas or Independence Day, helped me to recall the essential values.  We should regularly acknowledge the existence of these values, so we know and do not forget.  Because of our human nature, we live fast, we live practical lives, we can forget what is not recalled.  So, yes, for me it is important that this European Rural Manifesto is polished to a brilliant stage.  It reads like poetry, and can be fastened to the wall at home.  And, you know, at the moment when the hall stood up to loudly express the essence of the whole event: "All Europe Shall Live!”, the feeling was exactly as during the national anthem, or the culmination of a Christmas church service.”
Ieva Jātniece, member of the Latvian delegation to the ERP 2015 Gathering

The message in many languages

The European Rural Manifesto has already been translated into Croatian, French, German, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Slovenian and Spanish, and is in process of being translated into many other languages.   All language versions appear on the ERP website.  
The Manifesto is already being actively used.   For example, the Croatian Rural Development Network sent it to the national Press, to its own members, to all the participants in this year’s First Croatian Rural Parliament, to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Paying Agency, and to all Croatian MEPs.   The Rural Community Network in Northern Ireland will meet the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development to discuss the Manifesto and the implications for rural development policy in the province;  and with MEPs to discuss how they can assist in furthering the actions identified in the Manifesto.

… and in other continents

The Spanish network REDR has circulated the ERP press release and the Manifesto widely in Spain.   At REDR’s request, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) will cover the ERP campaign and Manifesto in its monthly newsletter, which is distributed to Ministers of Agriculture and other institutions in the 34 countries of Central and South America.
From the United States, Juliette Majot, President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) wrote, after her participation at the ERP Gathering, to say
“Thank you, most sincerely, for the opportunity to participate in the European Rural Parliament.   The darkness of recent events is made lighter by having experienced the great generosity and spirit of those gathered to see a future for a changed and improved Europe.   The voices of rural people so strongly present in the report “ALL Europe Shall Live”, and the specific points articulated in the Manifesto, resonate deeply with us at IATP, and we think they will resonate with members of the National Rural Assembly here in the U.S.”

Looking ahead

In the closing session of the Gathering, the Steering Group announced the intention to continue the ERP campaign over the next two years, focusing upon the active proposals within the European Rural Manifesto and working closely with national partners in many countries.   Plans for the campaign will be announced in the New Year.  
Meanwhile, some national partners have already committed themselves to action.   For example, on 10 November the Lithuanian Rural Communities Union met members of the Rural Committee of the national Parliament and described the ERP campaign.   They agreed to hold a major conference about rural community matters in Parliament in late March 2016, jointly initiated by the Union, the Rural and Social Affairs Committees of the Parliament, and the Ministries of Agriculture, Labour and Social Affairs.   Meanwhile the Union is organising a series of meetings at County level, to describe the outcome of the ERP Gathering, and has met the Minister of Agriculture to discuss the policy implications.

Contacts with the European Commission

Mihai Dumitru, Deputy Director General of Agriculture and Rural Development, as it did the opening session of the European Rural Parliament.   He warmly welcomed the ERP initiative, and expressed admiration for the highly participative of the campaign, involving thousands of rural people in so many countries.   He said that the raising of awareness among rural people was most timely, since the formal Rural Development Programmes for the 2014 to 2020 period.   He emphasized the Commission’s concern to promote the well-being of rural communities, and to find ways of encouraging young people to live and work in the countryside.   He said that Local Action Groups have high potential for the creation of new jobs in rural areas.   He looked forward to receiving the European Rural Manifesto, and to further discussion with the co-initiating bodies.
In late November, members of the ERP Steering Group made short presentations about the ERP campaign to the Civil Dialogue Group on Rural Development and to the Rural Networks Assembly, which are chaired by the Commission and attended by representatives of many European NGOs and of ministries of agriculture, paying agencies, national rural networks and local action groups from all the countries of the European Union.   We emphasised the call, pronounced in the European Rural Manifesto, for the European Union to mount a major review of the condition of rural areas within the European Union, and of the contribution which rural areas now make, and can further make, to the well-being of the Union.
Copyright © 2015 European Rural Parliament, All rights reserved.

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