A joint event of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and European Rural Parliament (ERP) “Making rural areas the engines of a sustainable Europe” was organised in Bussels, on the 14th of March 2019
PREPARE was present at EESC-ERP event: ”Making rural areas the engines of a sustainable Europe”. Goran Soster presented PREPARE and supported our partnership and advocacy work with the European and national rural parliaments as well as the work with non-EU and candidate countries. PREPARE insisted on giving more possibilities and power to local communities.
You will find the presentations at https://www.eesc.europa.eu/en/agenda/our-events/events
This was an ERP event organised together with EESC. ERP representatives all agreed that the EU should better listen better and connect to rural citizens and give them possibilities to participate in the policy debate and policy making. Climate, populism, lack of democracy and cuts (35%) to the integrated rural development funding were the key discussion points.
The momentum of connecting to rural citizens may be lost once again if members states and EU do not work in a more inclusive and just way on the preparation, content and implementation of rural development. This came out from many of the presentations:
Eamon O´Hara, ECOLISE ”We lack both at EU-level and national level real local development policies” ”Community energy projects have eight times the benefit to the local economy compared to projects owned by power companies”
Peter Welch, Court of Auditors: ”Agriculture had 1,5% share of GDP and 4% of the gross value added in the last 5 years.
Lambert Van Nisterooij, MEP: “We should not be shy in criticising the 35-40% cut in the second pillar”.
Paul Soto, ENRD: ”Policies do not just trickle down to rural areas”. Mr Soto asked to overcome the divide between sectorial (farming) and territorial development.
Guillaume Cros, CoR raised the challenge of rural exodus, especially of youth, towards cities. There is a feeling of abandon leading potentially to euroscepticism. Also available budget to rural development in general has already decreased from 32,6% (2007) to 21,3% (2014 programming). Only 7% of the ESF funding for professional education were directed to rural areas. This is not what the Cork Declaration meant in saying to have a just balance.
Petri Rinne from SYTY closed the meeting. The messages can be found at the ERP-website https://www.europeanruralparliament.com/index.php/archive/european-rural-parliament-2018-19/road-documents