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ENGAGE Political meeting

80 participants from 12 European countries participated in the launch of the ENGAGE project in Nevers, France on the theme of Next Generation Internet Access for Europe’s rural regions.


To complement the work of the ENGAGE partnership, funded via the Interreg IVC programme, the Chair of the Nièvre County Council proposed to elected representatives of European rural areas, to join with the Nièvre in setting up a permanent European Rural Internet Forum, the ENGAGE Political Platform.

This forum will support project implementation and advocacy activities locally and towards European Authorities to put in place the recommendations and findings of the ENGAGE project and to tackle the issue of creating a more digitally inclusive Europe, with open and neutral telecommunication networks. Above all to support the creation of a digital economy which meets the needs of all stakeholders and is inclusive of all regions wherever they are in Europe. The elected representatives present committed themselves to develop launch a manifesto for Dynamic and Inclusive Digital Regions in Europe, which will be presented at the next ENGAGE conference taking place in Finland in September 2013.

Key statements by the participating elected representatives:

The representatives from the Alentejo evoked their positive experience in local, national and international support organisations in order to achieve local objectives through international cooperation and advocating for a more positive legislative environment at European and national levels.

The representatives from the City of Derry and Kent underlined the value of their participation in the ENGAGE KO and the importance of creating a policy or political platform to ensure a balanced project dynamic between innovative technical and economic best practice and appropriate policy solutions adapted to the needs of each territory.

The representatives from Finland expressed their complete commitment to the process of establishing an ENGAGE political platform and their pleasure in hosting the next meeting of the Platform in South Obstrothnia region in Finland in September 2013.

The representative from Hargita County expressed the value his administration attached to their involvement in the ENGAGE project, and cooperation with other administrations for the development of VHSB evaluation and implementation in their County.

The Chair and Deputy chair of the Nièvre County Council expressed their pleasure in calling and hosting this ‘launch’ of the ENGAGE political platform; their commitment to leading the development of the Manifesto (coordinated through Niverlan) and their interest in broadening the scope of the ENGAGE political platform to include all issues concerned with ensuring that the European regulatory framework favours a more digitally inclusive society and economy and not an exacerbation of the digital divide.

Key decisions taken and agreed by all present:

  1. All present at the meeting agreed to establish an ‘Engage Political platform’ to provide a permanent vehicle for the active participation of elected representatives in the ENGAGE project and to work together to ensure that the project’s activities, policy recommendations and white paper would be appropriate, relevant and ‘ready to use’ by Engage PARTNERS and European rural public authorities

  2.  All elected representatives agreed to the proposed agenda of actions for the ENGAGE Political Platform and to participate in this programme and the Platform; they also stressed their willingness for the ‘Engage political platform’ to be presented at the European Open Days 2012  as a new and dynamic element of the ENGAGE Project

  3.  All elected representatives agreed that the ‘ENGAGE political platform’ will become a pillar of ENGAGE’s policy development and implementation strategy and also should develop into a reference for European Authorities in terms of High Speed Broadband Development in Rural Europe to encourage geographical digital unity across the EU. 

Programme of activity for the ENGAGE Political Platform

  1. Meeting in Kauhajoki, Finland (09/2013) to launch a policy manifesto which would be developed and agreed through appropriate mechanisms by all parties through a consultation process in 2013. Note: Political representatives of all ENGAGE partners will be invited and encouraged to participate in this process, which will be designed to be open to membership from across Europe.

  2.  Meeting in Kent (09/2014) launch of the ‘ENGAGE White Paper’, which would be developed in full consultation with the ‘ENGAGE political platform’

NB: The elected representatives present also expressed their interest in extending the scope of the political platform to include the wider European Rural Digital Agenda (this will be discussed in Finland in 2013) and of the potential for the platform to become an advocacy body for a digitally inclusive Europe, directed at European Authorities and Stakeholders, which will complement and reinforce national and regional advocacy actions by partners.

Relating to the development of the Manifesto, all representatives present underlined the importance of it going through due democratic consultation processes in order to ensure the full approval and commitment of their administration and therefore the legitimacy of the final document.

Present:

Mikko Savola

Member of Finnish National Parliament and Municipal Councillor

Patrice Joly

Chair of Nièvre County Council (France)

Fabien Bazin

Deputy Chair of Nièvre County Council  (France), Chair Niverlan

Ângelo João Guarda Verdades de Sá 

Mayor of Borba, President of CIMAC, the Association of Local Authorities of Central Alentejo, (Portugal)

Alfredo Barroso

Mayor of Redondo, Deputy President of CIMAC, the Association of Local Authorities of Central Alentejo, (Portugal), Chair ADRAL

Merja Kuusinen

Chair of Kauhajoki Municipal Council (South Ostrobothnia, Finland)

Armando Varela

Mayor of Sousel (Alentejo, Portugal)

Gerard Diver

City Councillor, Derry (N.Ireland)

Csongor Incze

County Councillor, Hargita County (Romania)

Andrew Wickham

County Councillor, Kent (UK)

See also: Participants in First ENGAGE Political Platform Meeting

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