Verslag 1e Vergadering Nationale Rurale Netwerken (Brussel, 27/11/2008)

Summary of the first European national rural networks meeting

Brussels, 27 November 2008

Morning Session: Capacity Building for the NRNs

Welcome and introduction by Martin Law, EN RD Contact Point.

Aims and objectives

The meeting was organised by the EN RD Contact Point (contact details provided on the handout) and the agenda designed to help with addressing specific areas of the first year’s work-programme:planned and future seminars; supporting the needs of the NRNs; and Transnational cooperation.
A series of workshops provided an opportunity to be informed about what the NRN are planning to do and their expectations/needs of the EN RD. The CP wanted to understand when and where to organise up to 5 more NRN meetings (up to 4 more outside of Brussels, and 1 in Brussels before July 2009) and the content of these meetings. The meeting facilitated an exchange of information exchange, networking and Cooperation. 

I. Capacity Building for NRN in all rural development topics & discussion about urgent issues/challenges by Kristiane Hallemann

A presentation was given about the possible content (including workshop themes) that could be included in the proposed seminar. After a brief discussion, each network was asked to consider the themes that had been provided in advance to the attendees. A summary of this provided as an Annex.

II. Brainstorming and discussion about other pressing needs, in relation to the services of the Contact Point for the NRNs by Hans-Olof Stalgren & Luis Fidlschuster

An outline of the possible different structures was presented as well as the different possible tasks and structures. Three workshops were organised in order to provide ‘brainstorming/discussion’ around two questions:
·         Problems: What are the urgent issues and challenges for your NRN?
·         Expectations: Which kind of support and services do you expect from the ENRD?

Group 1:
a) Problems: What are the urgent issues and challenges for the NRNs?

  • - to involve all people at all levels from a particular area and to work closely with the MA;
  • - to prove that the NRN has a value and is close to the local reality and able to ‘add value’;
  • - to show the added value of the Leader approach, to identify any gaps and have them addressed by the ENRD ;
  • - to explain the legislation;

b) Expectations: which kind of support and services are expected from the ENRD?

  • - CP should provide information about “what is going on the European level”;
  • - identify the big gaps on the European level and these to be filled in by the Contact Point;
  • - CP should promote TNC and work with the NRNs on this matter;
  • - help the NRNs on the basis of experiences from other countries, and in particular:

i. help LAGs to establish TNC projects
ii. help to establish international contacts and collect and disseminate information
iii. organise the collected information to address specific problems relevant to national needs;
iv. organise rural development seminars in different countries on different topics, such as: how to use the experience from Leader+; how to create and maintain contacts.
 v. databases concerned with: good and bad practice with explanations why it is so; good practice; experts indicators of good practice; LAGs with contact details; TNC projects.


Group 2:
a) Problems: what are the urgent issues and challenges for the NRNs?

  • - The different interests of different stakeholders, and how to manage this coherently in an action plan
  • - The different levels of networking: how to make stakeholders members of networks and the extent to which these stakeholders maybe networked
  • - Tools, instruments, practical proposals for innovative networking instruments to give new inspirations and inputs for NRNs (e.g. telephone conferences)
  • - Strengthening the NGOs who are difficult to group; how to involve them on the regional or local level
  • - The durability and measuring the success of networks

b) Expectations: which kind of support and services are expected from the ENRD?
- Provide an understanding of the different procedures/kinds of networking models through: analysis; description; best practice and case studies of networking experiences

  • - Provide tools and instruments, practical proposals of innovative networking instruments such as Web 2.0, Facebook and Blogs, which help to involve young people
  • - Action plans of NRNs should be published on the Website with the CP providing an analysis according to key questions
  • - Organise working groups with the NRNs who have the same level of experience in order to provide capacity building
  • - Establishing cooperation projects between NRNs (in the style of TNC projects between LAGs)
  • - Proposing information which should be translated in English on the web-sites of NRNs


Group 3:
a) Problems: what are the urgent issues and challenges for the NRNs?

  • - Objective of the Network should be clearly communicated/ is it about communication, or productivity?
  • - NRN human resources and cross administration involvement (inter-institutional cooperation)
  • - Structural issues: to organise NRN human resources so that you can organise soft products (communication, exchange, relations), and hard products (tools)
  • - How do you define your task? How do you resource it? How to balance the involvement of axes 1 and 2 who need to “catch-up” with axes 3 and 4 “ follow- up”
  • - Integration of other informal networks across all the different axes and involvement of other stakeholders is important.
  • - How can NRN’s start this networking if they don’t have experience? The task is to create a network, which is transparent, sustainable, operates smoothly and is valuable.
  • - The EN RD CP should do more work with “associations” (and involve more axes 1 and 2 associations such as COPA-COGECA, etc. It is easier for the NRNs to involve axes 1 and 2 stakeholders in their networks and see if the EN RD CP has these kind of connections at the EU level.

b) Expectations: which kind of support and services are expected from the ENRD?
- Make contact and integrate knowledge of the new, but existing axes 1 and 2 stakeholders. This should be done through events on EU level, which should aim to create a common plan on how to go further.

  • - Evaluation of networking (is it the EN RD CP’s task or it is something to the Evaluation Network?)
  • - Help to coordinate, and identify good practices in axes 1 and 2.
  • - Database – national databases should be compatible with the CP’s database.
  • - The CP should clearly communicate the purpose of the network and networking. This would help NRNs to be able to clearly communicate the purpose of the network and networking and would serve as a reference “document”)


Afternoon Session: Support for Transnational Cooperation

II. Brainstorming and discussion about other pressing needs, in relation to the services of the Contact Point for the NRNs by Dorothée Duguet and Séverine Bressaud 

The participants were firstly asked to provide comment/feedback to the two TNC questionnaires which had been sent previously, with the deadline of December 5 fro replies. They were also requested to make a selection of LAGs (including ‘old’ and ‘new’ LAGs) on the basis of a 10% sample along geographical lines where appropriate.

Discussion in 3 groups

Group 1 facilitated by Séverine Bressaud: The potential structure of the guide for LAGs as the target group and including the role of NRN
1) Methodology

  • - The first steps to establish TNC project
  • - conditions
  • - organisation of the process
  • - the different problems and the solutions to the problems
  • - advantage and disadvantages of cooperation

2) Procedures

  • - procedures established by countries
  • - measures showing the possibility to establish cooperation by countries

3) Tools

  • - database of LAGs
  • - database of projects
  • - thematic experts (including language skills, competence)

4) Opportunity

  • - added value for TNC projects including explanation “why TNC is better for added value than inter-territorial cooperation”
  • - possibility for cooperation outside Leader

Group 2 – Transnational Cooperation: pressing needs and tools (Brainstorming and Discussion): Establish 3 central needs and associate tools with them:
1. Central Needs

  • - Informing and supporting non-experienced LAG managers, especially during the first steps of TNC
  • - Facilitating contact between the networks in order to support the first steps of TNC
  • - The transfer of the transnational cooperation experience from the Leader axis into the other ones

2. Tools

  • - Use of good and creative media tools along with instructions on how they should be employed
  • - Updated contact lists of contacts in the NRN; databases; seminars (national and European); face to face contacts; study visits
  • - Work with the more experienced LAGs, mentoring schemes, best practices; thematic approaches (for example working with young people) 

Group 3: Establish 3 central needs and associate tools with them:
1. Central Needs

  • - Training: both at national and international levels, for Managing & Paying Authorities and involving the Commission. The purpose is to make authorities aware of the methodology to implement transnational projects and what are the responsibilities of the different actors involved.
  • - Clarifying administrative procedures on a European level and mediate between Member States to raise awareness about and understanding of procedures in the ‘other’ Member States.
  • - Publicise Good Practice / Pilot Projects: distinguishing by topics, structures and duration, emphasizing friendship/partnership aspects. This in order to lower the ‘fear’ by sharing information, thus making it simpler for those interested to deal with certain thematic challenges.

2. Tools

  • - It is still not clear how to involve actors from axes 1 & 2 in transnational cooperation: promote exchange visits / study trips (national / European level) financed from the Technical Assistance budget.
  • - Organising exchange visits/study trips on a European level (concerning TNC)
  • - Mentoring for LAGs interested in transnational cooperation. Here it will be important to identify and somehow commit personalities that have proven their quality as TNC ‘drivers’. Take also into account the potential that existing city twinning/partnerships may offer.
  • - Organise an temporary exchange programme for LAG Managers, LAG Members, stakeholders and others

Next steps and next meetings

The network representatives were asked to consider the possibility of hosting an NRN meeting over the coming months (possibly linked to planned national seminars) – up to 4 decentralised meetings were foreseen – and a final one in Brussels linked to one of the EN RD meetings. On this basis the details of the next NRN meeting will be communicated. The CP will take on board the issues arising out of this meeting in order to plan a suitable agenda for such meetings.
Attendees were then thanked for their attendance and contribution to the day’s meeting.