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 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 promotes the recognition of rural territories as poles of development, and not merely as areas of open countryside and farmland, and makes it a prerequisite to establishing mutually beneficial exchanges between urban and rural poles.
R.E.D. prioritizes a participatory and strategic approach integrating in a specified territory the economic, social, cultural and environmental concepts.
R.E.D. animates a European rural development network and coordinates the European Countryside Movement, collaborative platform of international organizations.
R.E.D. manages the websites www.ruraleurope.org, and www.patrimoine-energie.org and publishes thematic dossiers.
The European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) is the voice of Europe’s next generation of farmers to the European institutions. Acting as a forum for communication and dialogue between young farmers and European decision makers, CEJA’s main objective is to promote a younger and innovative agricultural sector across the EU 28 and to create good working and living conditions for young people setting up in farming and those who are already “Young Farmers”.
The main concerns of young farmers, and the focus of CEJA’s activities in Brussels and beyond are issues concerning access to land, credit and production rights and strengthening education and training facilities for young people in rural areas. CEJA represents 2 million Young Farmers in Europe and has always claimed to be independent of any political ideology.
The network of Southern Sparsely Populated Areas (SSPA), originates as a result of the union of three business organizations representing the provinces of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, recognized by the European Union and the Spanish State as sparsely populated regions. In 2017 two other sparsely populated regions of Southern Europe joined the network: Lika-Senj county (Croatia) and Evrytania region (Greece) as well as the local action groups of the Spanish territories.
SSPA’s goal is to formulate and promote measures aimed at reversing the process of depopulation, aging, demographic and economic fragility of Southern Sparsely Populated Areas. The network works to achieve adoption of legislative measures and appropriate policies by public authorities, as well as the involvement of civil society organizations of the European Union.