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Swedish Rural Parliament 2010

A thousand people from Sweden and about 100 participants from 22 other EU state members visited Swedish Rural Parliament 2010, which was held from 6th to 9th May 2010 in Sunne, a village in Värmland region. The event is being organized every two years, each time in different part of the state. The main organizer of the Parliament is national organisation All Sweden Shall Live!, which organizes the event from 1989. Other co-organizers of this year’s gathering were Swedish Rural Development Network, Community of Sunne and other partners. 
The Rural Parliament is an effective instrument for rural development in Sweden. Following this model, similar events are being organized also in Estonia, Hungary and Netherlands. The event gathers participants of different ages and professions that live on rural areas or are engaged with rural development directly or indirectly. They come from public, private and economic sector (representatives of community, NGOs, youngsters, farmers, politicians, scientists, businessmen etc.). During the gathering the participants are able to associate with each other, exchange ideas and experiences and search solutions for rural sustainable development. 
The motto of this year’s Parliament was: when younger and older generations meet, there is development, because it is based on experiences of the elders and on the strength and enthusiasm of the young ones. Furthermore, it is also important that each individual takes the responsibility for his own actions, because everyone can contribute to rural development with responsible thinking and acting.
During the Parliament 70 lectures and seminars were organised and about 30 examples of good practise were presented. Main topics of international seminars were: the future of European rural area, rural parliament as an instrument of rural development, young and democracy, women in business, sustainable development etc. The aim of the organisers was that each participant brings home new inspirations for creative actions, to spread the network of international acquaintance for potential future co-operations.

PREPARE at SURE Conference in Krakow, Poland (May 2010)

The SURE (Sustainable Urban and Rural Europe) Conference, which took place on 20. and 21. May in Krakow, Poland, draw on the wider expertise of participants, gathered good practice from around Europe, proposed how good practice may be mainstreamed, and showed what this implies for changes in the policy context. The resulting report, will make a timely contribution to the worldwide effort to build on the discussions at the World Conference of Climate Change held last December in Copenhagen. It will also feed into the mid-term review of current EU policies and the political debate on the future EU programmes from 2013 onwards.

The Krakow Declaration on A Sustainable Future for Europe and the World is available here:

EQUAL Policy Forum „Entrepreneurship” - 4th to the 6th 2007 of June in Hannover

The experience of EQUAL can be of interest also for rural areas!
The „EQUAL Policy Forum „Entrepreneurship” was organised from the 4th to the 6th of June in Hannover (as one of the events linked to the German presidency). Over 200 stakeholders from 25 countries (including Turkey) came to the historical Hannover Congress Centre to discuss how the experience of EQUAL in promoting entrepreneurship can be mainstreamed in the new programming period. Until 2006 EQUAL was a Community Initiative (but – unlike LEADER – an Initiative accessible also to the new Member States), but it has not been programmed in a clear manner into the new period, although many measures in the European Social Fund could be implemented using EQUAL partnerships and methodologies. However, it will be up to the individual member states to make use of the EQUAL experience.
During the working groups, conference participants discussed how to use the best practices developed within EQUAL in national and regional strategies and programmes. One of the working groups was devoted to „bridging the rural divide” and focused on creating entrepreneurial alternatives for farming jobs and preventing migration from rural areas. Examples from Ireland and Poland were presented. In Ireland, Local Action Group from Duhallow implements both LEADER and EQUAL projects (the latter in partnership with other LAGs), as well as a government-funded programme to create additional income for small farmers. In Poland, entrepreneurship within EQUAL is focused mainly on social economy, and part of these projects (e.g. those carried out with support of the European Partnership Foundation from Krakow) is implemented in rural areas.
In other sessions there were presentations, for instance, of innovative solutions concerning financial instruments. For instance the French organisation ADIE makes micro-loans – financed from funds obtained from the banking sector – to people who not be eligible for standard bank loans (e.g. long-term unemployed, handicapped, withouth permanent address etc.). In the South of Italy an interesting partnership has been formed to provide funding for immigrant women to start their own businesses. This was made possible because of good cooperation between the bank, local authorities (which provided funding for loan guarantees) and a support organisation which – through training and coaching – ensures that the funds are used to a good purpose.
There was also an interesting presentation of the „Community of Practice on Inclusive Entrepreneurship”. It aims to verify, to what extent the cultural, legal and financial environment in a given country/region are supportive for business activities carried out by various groups threatened by social exclusion (people over 50, with disabilities, migrants, women etc.). The Community of Practice on Inclusive Entrepreneurship (COPIE) has developed a simple tool – a series of surveys to be carried out among decision-makers and politicians, businesses and experts. Until now such analysis has been carried out for a few regions: Asturias in Spain, Wales in UK, Flanders in Belgium, one district in Berlin and one around Lisbon. Representatives of COPIE encouraged other countries and regions to join the study.
The final debate of the Policy Forum was focused on the methods to ensure that the wealth of experience gathered under EQUAL is not lost. One of the panelists formulated the following question: how can we ensure that the „people with money” (i.e. decision-makers, those who prepare strategies and operating programmes for 2007-2013 at European, national and regional level) meet the „people with ideas” (i.e. practitioners: NGOs, businesses and experts working in the territories)? This is a question very similar to those asked by those actively involved in promoting the LEADER approach.
Urszula Budzich-Szukala

Second Congress of the Lithuanian Rural Communities’ Union, Kaunas, March 16, 2007

The Second Congress of the Lithuanian Rural Communities’ Union took place in Kaunas on March 16, 2007. It was attended by nearly 300 representatives of rural community organisations from all over Lithuania.

"Photo from the archives of the Lithuanian Chamber of Agriculture"

In the beginning of the meeting, new communities who had recently joined the Union were formally received and handed their certificates. One of the newly accepted communities made a brief presentation of folk singing. Then there were short speeches of the invited guests, including the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Kazimiera Prunskiene, the head of the Agricultural Committee of the Lithuanian Parliament, Mr Viktoras Rinkevicius, Mr Bronius Markauskas, the president of the Chamber of Agriculture, and PREPARE Coordinator, Ms Urszula Budzich-Szukala. All the speakers stressed the significance of the Union’s activities and the willingness to support them. Mrs Prunskiene also participated in handing in awards to community leaders and announced her intention to provide 6 million litas (over 1.7 million EUR) to support the Union’s projects.



The programme of the meeting also included elections of the Union’s Chair and Vice-Chair. The office of Chairperson was held by Guoda Burokiene, who also represents the Lithuanian Rural Communities’ Union in the PREPARE Organising Group. During the Congress, Guoda was re-elected as Chairperson, to much applause. The Vice-Chair, Mr Alvydas Grigaliunas, was also re-elected.


The final part of the meeting was a discussion about the current situation and problems of Lithuanian rural areas, which ended in a joint declaration of all participants.

Conference “Leader in the New Member States” Tihany (Hungary), November 14-16, 2006

The seminar “Leader in the New Member States – rural development through Leader” was organised by the European Leader+ Observatory and Contact Point in Tihany on Lake Balaton in November 2006. It was intended as a platform of exchange for Leader actors in the new and old Member States.


PREPARE and its national partners were involved from the beginning in the planning of the seminar, development of its programme, identification of speakers, panelists and moderators, as well as in promoting the seminar among Local Action Groups. Many members of the PREPARE Organising Group were themselves speakers, rapporteurs or moderators of mini-plenary sessions. The seminar provided a valuable opportunity to share the experience of LEADER-type activities across Europe and to discuss the future of the LEADER approach and rural networks in the enlarged EU.

PREPARE Organising Group at the Tihany conference "Leader in the New Member States"
Photo: Roger Silfver