The National Rural Networks from each Member State regularly participate in meetings and events organised at a European level to share experiences and information. Increasingly, they are also forming geographic and thematic clusters to develop activities, promote greater cooperation and promote technical exchange and dialogue between networks. More information on specific activities can be found below.
NRN Thematic Initiatives
NRN Thematic Initiatives bring together NRNs with a common interest in specific areas of rural development policy and programme implementation. The main aim of such initiatives is to share knowledge and relevant experience of programme implementation amongst network participants. Priority is given to those topics that have a European dimension and can be of interest to a wider audience of stakeholders within the ENRD.
Representatives of NRNs and MS experts exchange information and meet in workshops to develop common work plans and activities with the support and guidance of the ENRD Contact point.
Further information on previous and currently active Thematic Initiatives can be found under the thematic topics of:
- Youth and Young Farmers Gateway
- Community-Led Local Development (CLLD)
- Social Farming
- Local Food and Short Supply Chains
- Rural Financing
- Rural Entrepreneurship Gateway
Geographical ‘Knowledge Exchange’ Clusters
The promotion of macro-regional ‘Knowledge Exchange’ Clusters is a new initiative of the ENRD and aims to build upon the diversity observed in the National Rural Networks regarding their thematic priorities and activities, technical and administrative capacities, range of services and levels of interactivity. Macro-regions are clearly defined geographical regions consisting – either wholly or partially - of two or more Member States.
The overall aim of encouraging macro-regional clusters of NRNs is to:
- Facilitate greater communication and more active knowledge exchange amongst networks;
- Develop the common macro-regional interests of networks – including linkage to EU macro-regional policy and other strategies;
- Promote more joint NRN actions – and trans-national co-operation between Local Action Groups - at macro-regional level;
- Foster a positive culture of ‘mutual learning’ amongst neighbouring networks.
The concept of macro-regional NRN ‘Knowledge Exchange’ Clusters was introduced and discussed during the 13th NRN meeting held in The Netherlands on 10 November 2011. For further information click here.
There are currently, two NRN ‘knowledge exchange’ clusters, the Nordic-Baltic clusters and the Mediterranean cluster.
The Nordic-Baltic cluster is composed of NRNs from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany. It is an active cluster which meets regularly (twice per year), plans its own joint activities and is plays an increasingly active role in relation to the rural development components of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR).
For more information on the Nordic-Baltic clusters of NRNs click here
Some key lessons learnt from the Nordic-Baltic NRN clusters are:
- Networks are much more likely to effectively work and co-operate together – as well as learn from each other’s experiences - where they share a common history, common identity, common culture, common issues etc.
- Communication between networks is greatly enhanced by regular (bi-annual) meetings focused upon specific macro-regional issues e.g. the joint planning of common regional events. Regular meetings are much easier when the travelling distances are shorter;
- It is also much easier to engage other stakeholders (e.g. Managing Authorities, LAGs, project promoters, fisheries networks and FLAGs) in meaningful dialogue when meetings are related to a specific macro-regional agenda;
- The importance of “good neighbourliness” should not be under-estimated. The networks in the 3 Baltic States especially emphasised the importance of having confidence in the experience and opinion of their neighbours in the older Member States. This was particularly important during the early phases of network establishment and development, but was also expected to continue as the networks evolved and matured;
- Regional co-operation can foster, incubate, develop and enforce common visions that cut across national and organisational boundaries.
The Mediterranean cluster is composed of the National Rural Networks of Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta. These Member States held a first meeting in Thessaloniki on the 1 February 2012 in order to share experiences on the current implementation of RDP Axis 1 measures 123, 132 and 133 and to debate on national experiences and future EU programming.
The second meeting took place on 17 October 2012 in Nicosia. It addressed the same topic, focusing on possible implications for the next programming period arising from the analysis of the draft proposal on rural development policy. It was agreed that a common paper will be issued by the beginning of December 2012. An important part of the meeting was also dedicated to sharing knowledge and experience about short food supply chains.