National campaign „Upward cascade of ideas “ for the European Rural Parliament 2015

In April 2015, the Society for Territorial and Environmental Prosperity – STEP was nominated to organize the national  campaign for the European Rural Parliament 2015.

The aims of the initiative are:

  • To strengthen the voice of the rural communities of Europe, and to ensure that the interests and well-being of these communities are strongly reflected in national and European policies;
  • To promote self-help, common understanding, solidarity, exchange of good practice and cooperation among rural communities throughout Europe.

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The ERP 2015 programme

The main elements in the programme are :

  • A simultaneous series of national campaigns, designed to gather an ‘upward cascade of ideas’ from rural communities in each country;
  • A Task Force to gather supporting material related to ‘the state of rural Europe’;
  • The European Rural Parliament 2015 Gathering;
  • Publication of a Manifesto and other outputs of ERP 2015 … and follow-through.

National campaigns to assemble an ‘upward cascade of ideas’

If the European Rural Parliament is to enable the voice of rural people to be heard, then that voice must come from the rural people, at grassroots level.   National members of three networks, and national actors in other countries are invited to play a key role in preparing for ERP 2015, by organising – each in their own country – an ‘upward cascade of ideas’, which truly draws upon the concerns and hopes of rural people.   This ‘cascade’ will start at local level, be gathered in counties and regions, synthesised at national level and brought together at European level to form a draft European Rural Manifesto which would be debated, amended as necessary, and approved at the ERP 2015 Gathering.  
At early May 2015, national campaigns are in process in 34 European countries – Albania, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Germany (Brandenburg), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Wales. STEP was selected to act as the ‘national champion’ for Bulgaria and to organize the campaign.

European Rural Parliament 2015 Gathering

The ERP 2015 Gathering will be held on 4-6 November 2015 at the beautiful small town of Schärding in Upper Austria.   The first day will be spent on field trips in regions surrounding the venue.   This will be followed by two days of workshops and plenary meetings to debate, finalise and adopt the Manifesto and Report.   The Gathering will be attended by over 300 people, including delegations from all the countries involved in the cascade of ideas, plus other leading rural organisations and invited representatives of governments, the European Commission, the European Parliament, Council of Europe etc.

The outputs of ERP 2015 are likely to include :

  • A Manifesto, designed to influence the European institutions and national and regional governments in their attitudes to, and policies for, rural communities
  • Supporting evidence, to back up that manifesto: this evidence will incorporate the synthesised results of all the national ‘cascades of ideas’, plus the outputs of the Task Force
  • Some form of multi-national advice and encouragement to rural communities to be active in pursuit of their own well-being.


The first European Rural Parliament was held in Brussels in November 2013 on the joint initiative of European Rural Alliance  (ERA), European Rural Community Association (ERCA) andPartnership for Rural Europe   (PREPARE)and organised by the Nordic group of national rural movements, led by Hela Sverige ska Leva (the Swedish rural movement).  150 people from 30 countries took part in that event.   They agreed that the initiative should continue, in order to strengthen the voice of rural Europe.