All Europe shall live!
The rural people of Europe assert their rights
A gathering of 240 people representing rural communities from 40 European countries, meeting at the second European Rural Parliament yesterday, approved an ambitious European Rural Manifesto. It called for full recognition of the right of rural communities to a quality of life and standard of living equal to that of urban populations, and to full participation in political processes.
They called for a refreshed and equitable partnership between people and governments. They recognized that rural people have a responsibility to act towards their own well-being, but demanded that governments at all levels, including the European institutions, work to make this crucial partnership effective.
The European Rural Parliament called on the European Union to mount a major review of the condition of rural areas within the EU. The conclusions from this review should be reflected in enhanced focus upon rural areas within all relevant EU programmes and funds. The European Rural Parliament campaign will continue over the next two years with a view to influencing the preparation of policies for the period beyond 2020.
The participants in the European Rural Parliament were acutely conscious that the town of Schärding, in which the gathering was held, is receiving 2000 refugees a day on their way across the border between Austria and Germany. For many rural areas this offers an opportunity to integrate refugees and other newcomers, given the necessary job creation, investment in housing, services and infrastructure. The European Rural Parliament called for a warm-hearted response, based on solidarity between peoples.
The European Rural Parliament is jointly initiated by three pan-European rural networks – European Rural Community Alliance (ERCA); PREPARE Partnership for Rural Europe; and European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD). Members of these networks are found throughout the EU and in the Western Balkan and Black Sea countries.
The Gathering was also attended by people from rural communities in almost all the EU countries, plus Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. The SWG Secretary General Mr.Boban Ilic was one of the key spokesmen in the plenary session of the European Rural Parliament.