A fair deal for rural communities throughout Europe
Rural people from 40 nations including Scotland 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.
Scotland’s Rural Parliament first met in Oban in 2014 and an announcement is expected shortly about the location and date of the next Rural Parliament to be held in 2016. Scotland’s National Coordinator Emma Cooper said “There are five delegates attending the European Rural Parliament from Scotland, including representatives from the Scottish Young Crofters Federation and the Scottish Rural Parliament. This gives us the opportunity to learn from other countries across Europe and share our own best practice stories, as well as showcasing Scottish food and drink. Most importantly though, it gives us a voice at the European policy level and we will be advocating for key issues affecting Scotland to be taken forward by the European Rural Parliament.”
The three-day European Rural Parliament, attended by 250 people from 40 countries, will debate the main themes arising from the preceding 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 populations, 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.