European Rural Parliament, pressrelease
01 November 2015


European Rural Parliament

European Rural Community Alliance      

PREPARE Partnership for Rural Europe

European LEADER Association for Rural Development

Press Release                                                               29 October 2015

A fair deal for rural communities throughout Europe

Rural people from 40 nations will gather in Austria 4-6 November to demand a fair deal for rural communities throughout Europe.

The second European Rural Parliament, to be held at Schärding in Austria, is the climax of a year-long campaign in 40 European countries to find out what rural people think about their living conditions.   The aim of the campaign, launched by three leading European rural networks, is to strengthen the voice of rural people, to ensure that their interests are reflected in national and European policies, and to promote self-help and cooperation among rural communities.

The three-day Parliament, attended by 250 people from 40 countries, will debate the main themes arising from the campaign, and will adopt a European Rural Manifesto setting out an ambitious agenda of policy and action to be pursued over the next few years. 

Advance papers for the Rural Parliament record:

  • The high concern of people in many rural region about the narrowness of rural economies, the lack of good jobs, loss of population as young people move away, decline in rural services, the suffering of older people, poverty and social exclusion among disadvantaged people and ethnic minorities.
  • 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
  • A vision for the future of vibrant, inclusive and sustainable rural communities, supported by diversified rural economies and by effective stewardship of landscapes and cultural heritage.

The Rural Parliament will call for a new, innovative partnership between rural people and governments, in order to reverse the spiral of decline in many rural areas; to enable young people to find a good life in the countryside; to tackle poverty and exclusion; and to build a positive future for millions of small and family farms and rural enterprises.  

Two issues to be addressed by the Rural Parliament – climate change and refugees – are highly topical.   

In the run-up to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, rural areas can play a major role in combatting climate change and sustaining environmental resources.  Over 40 percent of Europe’s land is in forests, which can capture carbon and yield renewable resources of raw material.  Rural areas are well placed to meet the growing demand for renewable energy from wind, hydro, solar, heat exchange and woodfuel sources.

The current wave of desperate people from Africa and the Middle East, seeking refuge and new lives in Europe, is provoking thought and action within rural communities.  Many rural areas, particularly those with declining population, may be well placed to welcome refugees and other newcomers.  But the welcoming process must include the necessary investment in housing, services, infrastructure and job creation. 

Notes for Editors 

  1. 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.
  2. The ERP Campaign is under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Thorbjørn Jagland; and is co-funded by the European Commission though the Europe for Citizens programme.
  3. The ERP 2015 Gathering will be held in the beautiful small town of Schärding in Upper Austria.  It is hosted by Sauwald-Pramtal Local Action Group and Schärding Town Council, organised by the Projects4 company, and grant-aided by the governments of Austria and Upper Austria. 
  4. The Gathering will be 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.
  5. Press representatives will be welcome at the Gathering (see programme attached)
  6. More information can be found at



Add national contact

Joint Coordinators, European Rural Parliament 2015

Michael Dower (PREPARE)   Tel +44 1308 863515, e-mail       

Vanessa Halhead (ERCA)   Tel +44 1381 600736,  e-mail

PROJECTS4 (Organisers in Austria)

Thomas Müller   Tel +43.664.2214269, e-mail

Lizé Grimbeek   Tel +43.660.2711210, e-mail




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