PREPARE - Partnership for Rural Europe


European Rural Parliament

Recommended Links




The PREPARE Programme

The aim of the PREPARE programme is to strengthen civil society and to promote multi-national exchange in rural development, with a main focus on the new EU member states and accession countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

The PREPARE partners wish to promote dialogue, trust, confidence and co-operation between local actors, governments and all stakeholders of rural development, at all geographic levels.
Their desire is to see rural communities empowered to participate in decision-making related to sustainable rural development.

The programme is driven by the belief, among the PREPARE partners, that :

  • Rural development is most successful and sustainable where strong partnerships are
    created at national, regional and local level, and where local people are actively involved in
    the process.
  • People throughout rural Europe have the desire and the ability to take the lead in building
    better lives for themselves.
  • It is strongly in the interest of governments, at all levels, to bring rural people into full
    partnership. In that way, they can ensure that policies are relevant and sustainable, and
    that public money gains a ‘multiplier’ of private and communal effort.
  • In the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, there is particular need to strengthen civil
    society, in the sense of active local democracy and non-government organisations, so that
    it can become an active partner of government and a stimulus to popular involvement in
    rural development.
The programme has three main elements :

  • Country-specific national programmes
  • Multi-national exchanges
  • International networking.
These are described below.

1. Country-specific national programmes.

Our national programmes are designed to promote dialogue and co-operation between different actors in rural development. They vary according to the needs of each country, but may include national seminars, regional workshops and other exchanges, all leading towards a structure of cooperation which can bring lasting benefits. We always work closely with, and at the invitation of, non-government organisations within the country.

  • The first PREPARE national programme was launched in 2001 in Slovenia : this led to the creation of the Slovenian Rural Development Network.
  • A similar initiative in Latvia in 2003 led to the creation in late 2004 of the Latvian Rural Forum.
  • In the Czech Republic, our support in 2004 and 2005 for programmes of training for animators of local action groups helped to stimulate the creation in early 2006 of the Czech National Rural Observatory.
  • We gave similar support in 23004 to training programmes in Poland, run by the Polish Forum for the Animation of Rural Areas
  • In Croatia, we supported the creation in early 2006 of the Croatian Rural Development Network.
  • We are now beginning to focus on potential national initiatives in the Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia – and Turkey.

2. Multi-national exchanges

We place high importance on multi-national exchange of experience and ideas in the field of rural development.

Between 1999 and 2002, we organised three successful Travelling Workshops - to Estonia and Sweden in 1999, Hungary in 2000, Finland in 2002. These enabled key people in the pre-
accession countries to see and discuss the active involvement of local communities in rural

In 2003, we started a series of annual multi-national Gatherings of the PREPARE Network. The aim of these events is to bring together people from the new EU member states and accession countries, to stimulate debate and understanding of the rapidly-evolving field of rural development in Europe, and to constantly update the PREPARE programme.

  • The first Gathering was held in Slovakia in October 2003, preceded by Traveling
    Workshops which started in all the 8 EU accession countries of Central Europe.
  • The second Gathering was held in Bulgaria in September 2004, preceded by Travelling
    Workshops in that country and in Romania. This event was attended by 110 people
    from 22 countries, including new neighbour states of the EU (Kaliningrad, Belarus,
    Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania).
  • The third Gathering was held in Lithuania in October 2005, preceded by Traveling
    Workshops in that country and in Latvia. Participants came from 23 countries.
  • The fourth Gathering was held in the Czech Republic in June 2006, preceded by Traveling Workshops in different parts of that country, hosted by 17 Local Action Groups. Participants came from 22 countries, including Turkey for the first time.
We promote visits and exchanges of information and best practice between EU member states and accession countries. In June 2004, we arranged for 50 people from 10 Central European
countries to attend a Cooperation Forum in Cáceres, Spain, organised by the Spanish LEADER Network.

We support regional links between the Central European countries. For example, regional Conferences were held in Romania and in Lithuania in 2001. An active link has developed is
developing between Kodukant in Estonia, the Latvian Rural Forum an the Lithuanian Rural Communities Union.

3. International networking.

We have set up a formal PREPARE network, to enable exchange and mutual support between all who are interested in rural development throughout Europe - see Prepare Network.

The PREPARE partnership has a seat on the European Commission’s Rural Development Advisory Committee. We play an active part in debates there and elsewhere on the evolution
of policy and practice for rural development at European and national level. We were strongly represented at the Salzburg Conference.