People living in the more remote parts of Europe rarely have access to the natural gas grid and the electricity supply can be unreliable and hugely inefficient. As a consequence they often have to rely on relatively high carbon solid and liquid fuels which are being used with aging technologies. The Future of Rural Energy in Europe (FREE) initiative gives a voice to all those who believe that rural energy needs are important issues both for those who live in the countryside and for European society as a whole. We want to make sure that policy makers acknowledge that the following is true and plan accordingly.

The FREE initiative is launched and funded by SHV Energy, a family-owned multinational organisation that consists of a group of specialised energy companies. These companies provide people and businesses with decentralised personalised energy solutions and services. Its customers often live or work in areas beyond the natural gas grid. FREE was created in 2010 and is meanwhile supported by a wide variety of groups and individuals committed to realising the potential of rural communities through greater energy choice.


Euromontana is the European multisectoral association for co-operation and development of mountain territories. It embraces regional and national mountain organisations throughout greater Europe, including regional development agencies, local authorities, agriculture organisations, environmental agencies, forestry organisations and research institutes.

Euromontana’s mission is to promote living mountains, integrated and sustainable development and quality of life in mountain areas.

In order to achieve this, Euromontana facilitates the exchange of information and experience among these areas by organising seminars and major conferences, by conducting and collaborating in studies, by developing, managing and participating in European projects and by working with the European institutions on mountain issues.


International association set up in 1980, Rurality-Environment-Development (R.E.D.) develops, through its network of members and partners in Europe, continuous exchanges on the rural policies and their implementation, with the double finality of a better ground efficiency and of a reinforced dialogue with the European institutions.

R.E.D. animates a European rural development network and promotes a participatory approach of development integrating, in a specified area, the economic, social, cultural and environmental concepts into a territorial project.
R.E.D. coordinates European platforms like the European Countryside Movement and gives support to members activities at international level.
R.E.D. animates the website, and publishes the newsletter Eurobrèves and thematic dossiers.

EUSPA logo vertical

EUSPA is the operational European Union Agency for the Space Programme. It adopts a user-oriented approach to promote sustainable growth and to improve the security and safety of the European Union.

Space is essential to the way we live, work and play. EUSPA’s core mission is to implement the EU Space Programme and to provide reliable, safe and secure space-related services, maximising their socio-economic benefits for European society and business. By fostering the development of innovative and competitive upstream and downstream sectors and engaging with the entire EU Space community, EUSPA is driving innovation-based growth in the European economy and contributing to the safety of EU citizens and the security of the Union and its Member States, while at the same time reinforcing the EU’s strategic autonomy.

ERCA, the European Rural Community Alliance was founded in 2008 to provide a pan European voice and platform for representative rural organisations with national or regional standing. Until 2021 it was led, as president, by Staffan Nillson, former president of the EESC, (European Economic  and Social Committee). It has active participation from organisations  located in Portugal, England, Scotland, (Scottish Rural Action), Ireland (Irish Rural Link), in the West, to Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland in the North, to Lithuania and the Ukraine in the East and Belgium, Netherlands and Germany centrally.

ERCA is a voluntary organisation, respected by the other European Institutions for its widespread reach and knowledge of most rural aspects. It has been a key stakeholder in the Commission’s preparations for the PACT and work on rural proofing and a member of the former ENRD Network steering group and Assembly. It is involved in organising the Gathering and steering group meetings of the European Rural Parliament and involved in several previous and current European research projects. ERCA also participated in the launch of the new rural Observatory and the recent OECD conference in Ireland.