EU Rural Movements

The rural movements that have developed in Europe over the last 30 years represent an organised approach to providing a network and voice for rural areas, their people and the many organisations working for rural development.

Faced with issues of rural decline, centralising policy, globalisation of markets and European integration, the rural people of many European countries have organised themselves to raise the challenge of a new rural Europe. They work at village, regional, national and international levels to make sure that the voice of the rural people is heard at every level of decision-making. They also work together to build the capacity, confidence and achievements of the local actors in creating a better future for Europe’s many tens of thousands of rural communities.

Because of their high level of organisation, networking and direct relationship with the rural communities, the rural movements represent a significant new voice on the European stage.

Further information

Rural Parliaments
An important tool in the work of the rural movements is the ‘Rural Parliament’, aimed at raising the voice of the rural areas nationally and internationally. Held every two years, it brings together all of the rural players - local, regional and national - to exchange experience and agree the rural policy agenda with which to lobby government. The Swedish model for the Rural Parliament was the first example of this particular type of event, and is still the ‘gold standard’ in Europe. It has inspired and influenced many people in many countries, who have since worked to establish their own versions of the Rural Parliament.

European Rural Parliament -

In 2013 ERCA, through it's Swedish member HSSL, initiated the first European Rural Parliament (ERP). Since then 4 ERPs have been held in Brussels (2013), Austria (2015), Netherlands (2017), Spain (2019). The 5th ERP will be held in Poland in 2022, having been delayed due to Covid.

The ERP is now managed by a coallition of 3 pan-European organisations: ERCA, PREPARE and ELARD. It has national Partner organisations in 40 European countries, all civil society organisations working for the wider benefit of rural communities.

The ERPs follow the same model as the original Swedish Rural Parliament, with a 2 year cycle intersperced by a Mid-Term Event held in Brussels. The format is to bring together representatives from the 40 Partner organisations and key rural players in their countries, with representatives from the European Institutions,. to debate rural issues and develop and agree a Rural Manifesto and Declaration. This is then diseminated widely, especially to the European Institutions, who are the focus of advocacy meetings to influence the development of rural policies in the EU.

Links to reports and programmes of current Rural Parliaments are in the Resource Library and on the ERP website.

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