Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative
(6 October 2014) - AEIDL has published a compilation of the findings and initiatives presented at the “Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative” conference held in Brussels on 19-20 February 2014 on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.
The 88-page illustrated publication presents the main findings and perspectives arising from the conference, as well as the presentations of each of the 25 “promising initiatives” selected by AEIDL to feature at the event.
Available in English and French, in print and electronic versions, the publication is a springboard of ideas to continue and deepen discussions initiated in February.
The printed version can be ordered from AEIDL.
- Format PDF
Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative
This was the theme of a conference organised by the European Association for Information
on Local Development (AEIDL), on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. The conference
th thtook place in Brussels on the 19 and 20 February 2014. Reinventing Europe
The frst day, which was held in the European Parliament, drew more than 150 participants
from 27 countries.
The contributions and debates focused on the need to renew the European Project, taking through Local Initiativeinto account the initiatives of citizens and territories, in order to meet current economic,
environmental and social challenges.
A conference and 25 promising initiatives These contributions and debates were brought to life by presentations of 25 different local
initiatives, drawn from 17 countries and covering a full geographic range from metropolitan
to celebrate the 25th anniversary of AEIDLcentres to the most peripheral rural areas.
This publication highlights the main points from the contributions, debates, and the
presentation of the 25 promising initiatives.
9 782930 818016|2 Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative
25 years of local development 3
Rethinking the European project
from the perspective of citizens and local communities 5
25 promising initiatives 16
A great success 68
ALL Europe Shall Live! 72
“Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative” – Act One 87
Chris Brooks, Yves Champetier, Michael Dower, Marjorie Jouen, Márta Márczis, François Saint-Ouen
AEIDL would like to thank the Members of the European Parliament, representatives of the initiatives,
speakers, stakeholders and other participants who contributed to the success of the conference
and the production of this publication.
Journalism: Jean-Luc Janot
Editing: Yves Champetier, Jon Eldrige, Jean-Luc Janot, Wendy Jones, Eamon O’Hara
Photos (pages) : AEIDL (3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 68, 69, 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, 79, 80, 83, 84, 87, 88),
initiatives (8, 12, 15, 18-67, 75, 77, 78, 82, 85).
Cette publication est également disponible en français.
© 2014 European Association for Information on Local Development (AEIDL)|Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative 3
25 years of local development
AEIDL was born at an important moment
in recent European history. Signifcant
changes were occurring in 1988.
In June 1988, the Commission of Jacques
Delors gave a new momentum to the
process of the European integration by
fnalising the conditions for the internal
market, also laying the foundations for the
single European currency.
In the same year, the European Commission
Communication on “The Future of Rural
Society” was published, presenting the
frst strong statement on the need for Also in 1988, in a very different context,
a European rural development policy. President Gorbachev introduced his policy
This led to the setting up of the LEADER of perestroika. It was the time of the Second
Programme, which was the frst time the Solidarity in Poland, when Lech Wałęsa
‘bottom-up’ approach was used in EU scored a public-relations victory, and the
policy and practice, strengthening local year when civil society found its voice again
citizen initiatives across Europe. AEIDL in Central and Eastern Europe, leading to
would later play an important role in political change in the communist countries.
LEADER, raising its profle across much of
>>>|4 Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative
On a warm summer evening in 1988, Bruce After 25 years, we feel that the time has
Springsteen was on stage in East Berlin come again to tear down some symbolic
playing in front of 300 000 East Germans. walls and reinvent the Europe that we love, a
He stepped up to the microphone and told Europe which is, in the proper use of these
the crowd why he had come to the city: “I’m adjectives, ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive’.
not here for or against any government,” he The “Reinventing Europe through Local
said. “I’ve come to play rock n roll for you Initiative” conference that we organised
in the hope that one day all the barriers will on 19-20 February in Brussels, and the 25
be torn down.” The following year the Berlin “promising initiatives” that it showcased,
wall was torn down. are an important frst milestone towards
achieving this ambition.
President of AEIDL|Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative 5
A contribution by AEIDL
Rethinking the European project
from the perspective of citizens
and local communities
The European project is in need of renewal. A growing disconnect between the
EU and its citizens threatens the democratic legitimacy of the EU.
▲ Conference participants in front of the European Parliament (19 February 2014).
interaction at local level, between all those AEIDL, the European Association for
who wanted to open up new development Information on Local Development, was
opportunities. founded in 1988 by like-minded individuals
who believed that European integration Over the last 25 years, AEIDL has seen
could make a positive contribution signifcant changes in Europe, marked by
to citizenship and to the sustainable the search for that elusive equilibrium that
development of local communities. Its Jacques Delors defned as, “competition
objective was to contribute to bringing that stimulates, cooperation that
Europe closer to its citizens and to promote strengthens and solidarity that unites.” |6 Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative
Since its creation, AEIDL has been an active Economic, social
stakeholder in various policies introduced and territorial cohesion
by Europe. Policies that targeted local The Single European Act, signed in 1986
initiatives, promoting communication and in response to growing eurosceptisicm in
exchange at European level, identifying good the face of the oil crisis and the massive
practices, strengthening local capacities, restructuring of whole sectors – coalmining,
empowering local actors, supporting steelmaking, shipbuilding, textiles, gave the
cooperation, exploiting and disseminating EU a new competence, that of “economic
knowledge, and evaluating results. and social cohesion”. In concrete terms,
Among the initiatives we have been involved this involved a doubling of the Structural
in over the years are: the Local Development Funds in 1988 and their concentration on
and Employment Initiatives (LDEIs), the the most underdeveloped regions.
Rural Carrefours, the Territorial Employment In 2007, the territorial dimension, which is
Pacts, rural development policies including at the heart of all AEIDL’s actions, gained
the LEADER Community Initiative and its stronger recognition. Complementing the
equivalent programme for fsheries areas principle of economic and social cohesion,
(FARNET), the EQUAL Community Initiative, the Lisbon Treaty added “territorial
numerous cooperation programmes, urban cohesion”, the aim of which was to build
development initiatives (URBAN, URBACT), on the strengths of each Member State of
the EU’s main environment programme, the EU, enabling them to make the greatest
LIFE, the local development aspects of the possible contribution to sustainable
EU Cohesion policy, and ESF initiatives development and European integration.
focusing on social enterprise and the social
Despite the diffculties encountered, the
results are there for all to see: an unprece-
These different initiatives have contributed dented transformation in Member States,
to building an open, inclusive and high-quality infrastructure in all regions,
imaginative Europe – a proud achievement including those at the very periphery of
for countless local actors and project the EU, a major reduction in disparities
promoters who have received EU support between countries, a signifcant drop in
for their projects. These people are proud unemployment rates, and a European social
to be involved in the construction of a model serving as an example for the rest of
community unique in the world, rich in the world.
diversity and multiculturalism. |Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative 7
Nevertheless, over this 25 year period Unchecked globalisation
there has also been tensions and crises, and weaknesses in the
in Europe and elsewhere in the world, European construction
highlighting the weaknesses of our The subprime crisis sparked by the failure
economic system. Globalisation has gone of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the
hand-in-hand with massive deregulation, subsequent sovereign debt crisis sparked
1bowing to the myth that “the market” could a meltdown of the system. A third crisis –
solve the problems of global development. and one with the potential to have a much
Nevertheless, growth continued in our more ground impact, is the ecological
Western societies, helping us to forget that crisis. Yet responses to this crisis, and
it was nurtured to a large extent by the proposals for transitional policies, remain
disfunctionality it gave rise to: by social sadly lacking in the face of recession,
inequalities, and by unlimited exploitation national egoism and conservatism.
of natural resources, with an unsuspected Unchecked globalisation, an increasingly
impact on climate change. But it cannot be inequitable distribution of wealth, a
said that we were not forewarned. We only fnancial system without proper controls,
need to recall the warning of Club of Rome and property speculation leading to
in the early 1970’s or, more recently, of Al unsustainable growth – all these have
Gore, the 2007 winner of the Nobel Peace produced a situation that is unprecedented
Prize for his fght against global warming. since the 1930s.
This situation has been exacerbated
by the fragility of the European project,
and the diffculty in choosing between
deepening and enlarging, and between
1 From the 1980’s onwards, the “Washington
the “open market” and truly common
Consensus” has served as a basis for interventions
policies. Ambitious initiatives such as the of major international organisations, advocating
single currency were undertaken, though the liberalisation of trade and fnancial markets, the
privatisation of state enterprises and deregulation. without – at least at that time – adequate
“We need to think about how to infuence the mutation and how to
create structures and rules which mitigate the perversities of the
system and which encourage behaviours by individuals, companies and
communities which innovate behaviourally to respond to the problems
of the future. In this sense local initiatives are very important. They
represent a large pool of innovation and experimentation which will be
invaluable in meeting the challenges of the future.”
Expert in international economic cooperation|8 Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative
▲ Schoolchildren in a windmill in Samsø, Denmark.
In general, Europe is suffering from The Europe to which we aspire is in great
decision-making mechanisms that are danger – unemployment is exploding,
diffcult to understand for the majority of jobs are becoming increasingly insecure,
citizens. Even if major progress has been social and environmental dumping is
made, especially in boosting the role of the commonplace, populism and protectionism
European Parliament, the EU is still seen are gaining ground, and citizens are losing
as distant by European citizens, and in confdence in their leaders, both at national
many countries there is a great temptation and European level.
to blame “Brussels” for everything that
“Initiative implies the desire to transgress.
Innovation is a successful disobedience.”
Michel Dupoirieux, Union régionale des Sociétés
coopératives et participatives (SCOP)
de Languedoc-Roussillon, France|Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative 9
“I do not know if we will have ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive’
growth, but our common aspiration could be to build a ‘smart,
sustainable and inclusive’ European Union and of course,
because both are closely related, contribute to a ‘smart,
sustainable and inclusive’ world.”
Yves Champetier, AEIDL
Unprecedented changes > when entire sectors of the European
The world has changed radically over economy are devastated and when
the last decade and new ways of doing many areas have lost all their economic
things are needed. As Albert Einstein said, activities;
“We cannot solve today’s problems with > when the transition to a green economy
yesterday’s solutions.” and combating climate change receive
Europe is going through a fundamental such little attention, and when biodiver-
change, associated with the globalisation sity is in serious decline;
of trade and information, the emergence of > when unemployment is hitting more than
new world power structures and unprece- 11% of Europe’s working population, and
dented environmental challenges, notably more than 50% of under-25s in Spain
major climate change and a sharp decline and more than 60% in Greece are out of
in biodiversity. work. According to Eurostat fgures for
In March 2010, the European Commission 2011, 27% of children under the age of
presented its new 10-year strategy for getting 18 were exposed to the risk of poverty
the European economy back on track. or social exclusion, with the proportion
Entitled “Europe 2020”, its aim is to promote rising to 52% in Bulgaria, 49% in
“smart, sustainable and inclusive” growth. Romania and even 38% in Ireland. In
2012, more than 114 million people (25% Given the slump that now seems to be
of the EU population) were threatened by gripping most of the continent, these
poverty or social exclusion;objectives appear extremely ambitious and
represent a formidable challenge: > when the expected growth is continually
postponed.|10 Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative
“I hope that we, as gypsy entrepreneurs, will also get
opportunities in our country, and we will be allowed to
do more than pass in front of the police and bow as they
expect us to do. Instead of this we would like to work
Imre “Zorro” Mata,
Kegyetlen social cooperative, Hungary
Has the time come to use “smartness, In 1995, Jeremy Rifkin wrote in his book,
sustainability and inclusion” to look “The End of Work”, that we need to
for new ways forward? announce the transition to a post-market
economy, to defne new forms of business In the absence of any clear timelines for
and new ways of distributing income. This sustainable growth, has the time not come
requires strong action in two areas: reducing to leverage “smartness, sustainability and
working time and developing the ‘third inclusion” in the search for new ways of
sector’, in which people organise themselves doing things?
in communities providing a growing
New thoughts abound in this area,
proportion of the services they need.
but unfortunately they are all too often
New concepts are now appearing, such as obscured by the dominant thinking – even
“prosperity without growth”, “simple living”, though “yesterday’s solutions” are indisput-
or “transition initiatives”. ably insuffcient to overcome the challenges
we are faced with. Joseph E. Stiglitz regularly alerts
Europeans to the damage caused by In the 1970’s, Ignacy Sachs came up
excessive liberalisation and growing income with the concept of “eco-development”,
inequality, pointing to the ineffectiveness of the book, “The Limits to Growth”, was
austerity policies increasingly becoming the published at the request of the Club of
“suicide of Europe”, and the need to look Rome, and Paul Schumacher popularised
for alternatives.the concept, “Small is beautiful”.
“There is a serious danger of a rise in
poverty, unemployment and xenophobic
discourse without anything being done
about it”, said Michael D. Higgins, President
of the Republic of Ireland.