I am glad to have the opportunity to present our actions, achievements and hopes to you, and to discuss our options with you. Friends of the Countryside-Meta, and its sister organisation ELO, have dedicated themselves to:
Promoting the holistic economic, social and environmental management of the countryside.
Supporting private business and rural property throughout the European Union and its adherent members. It is our belief that the future of Europe’s countryside is dependent on the individual management decisions of its millions of entrepreneurs and private landowners. The future depends on a strong relationship between them and the public authorities. Burdensome regulations and expropriation of land or business, in the European history has shown us that private enterprise and property are the best guarantee of economic, social and environmental protection and development of the countryside. It encourages good management practices.
When visiting our webpage it is always good to question our strategies. The ability of rural businessmen and women to adjust to an ever changing world is still the key to their success.
Europe is moving ahead within an increasingly diverse world.
Agriculture, once the cornerstone of rural Europe, is slowly moving away from a system of assisted production and is instead now more concerned with environmental constraints and finding a place in open international markets.
At the same time forestry, once a traditional countryside activity, has to cope with major changes and opportunities.
Rural business and landowners will only be able to adjust to change if they are encouraged to diversify their activities. This is the only way private concerns will survive and, more broadly, the communities in which they are situated.
The future depends on innovation taking into account the preservation of biodiversity combined with economic and social needs and fostering good values. The Friends of the Countryside must be part of these changes and even anticipate them if their projects are to succeed.
It is a matter of common sense for the Commission and the Members States to recognize the need to create the conditions for this success, to avoid cumbersome rules and regulations and protect private property and private enterprise.
The ELO is driving this message home to the EU institutions, the NGO’s and the national representatives.
The ELO leads the debate on the relationship between ownership, business and environment both in conceptual terms, and in order to develop prosperous countryside businesses. While the task is huge, our network is of great value. The ELO could not achieve its goals without the Friends of the Countryside, who convey our message from European to national or regional levels.
Thierry de l’Escaille
Secretary General of Friends of the Countryside