December 2012 saw the close of the Charter of European Rural Communities’ two-year project on Demographic Development in Rural Areas. Cashel’s hosting of the European Charter in July 2011 played a significant role in this project.
Many citizens and tourists experienced Cashel showcasing its cultural heritage to over thee hundred visiting delegates from all corners of Europe during this five-day, free public festival. The Céad Míle Fáilte extended out and across Europe as Cashel’s precursor to The Gathering even had the sun as a brief and very welcome visitor. This pan-community effort which proved an inordinate success ensured the delegates returned to their countries imbued with a Gaelic glow.
Not withstanding the festivities and cultural showcasing, the European Charter engages in programmes of relevance to all EU citizens at a rural or small community level and the impacts on our daily lives.
This programme is conducted in conjunction with the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels – the results of which are often brought for adoption into various pan-EU programmes. It is one of the few real measures of the effects of guiding principles on EU citizens. The Demographic Development in Rural Areas programme saw the representative towns from all EU countries assess the impacts of a wide range of issues under this banner. It commenced from the general; decrease in birth rates, increase in life-expectancy, demographic cohorts or age groups, their needs, aspirations and available services . Given the timing of the programme, the economic crisis played a crucial part.
The Youth of the Charter (18 to 27 age group) conducted their own programme on the same theme, with very productive and insightful results. While one of the three legs upon which the EU sits is that of the Freedom of Movement of People, migration for employment, particularly amongst the younger population, has seen the decline of small communities.
Cashel is now preparing itself for the next two-year programme after the acceptance of Jette Johnson’s (Sweden) proposal by the European Commission; How to involve citizens in reducing the impact of climate change in European rural communities. With the incoming water and septic tank charges these impacts amongst many other related issues will prove to be highly topical for Tipperary delegates and Irish citizens over the next two years. Perhaps Frans Ronnes’ words are prophetic when he notes that ‘if you realise the population of the European Union is 503 million and the total Charter inhabitants are about 130,000, you can consider it a drop in the sea, but it is a drop that makes wide circles in the water and spreads’.
Irish delegates will attend the European Charter meetings in Portugal July 2013 and Czech Republic May 2014, with further Youth Meetings in 2014 to Spain and Denmark. A limited number of places are available for Cashel and county Tipperary delegates. These places are open to anyone interested in attending, with a number set aside for youth delegates (18 to 27 years). If you are interested contact Communications Officer, Dr. Niall Gregory at 086 4096899 email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit www.europeancharter.eu