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Rural dialogues – Let’s talk!

Introducing our next debate series – rural dialogues. What is the state of play for rural Europe? Are rural places still lagging behind – forgotten, disadvantaged and in need of extra supports? Or is there a rural renaissance of sorts occurring, from smart villages to innovation hubs? Tell us what you know and let’s get talking! […]

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Working for Land Rights in Romania

By Attila Szocs, Eco Ruralis Land Rights Campaigner Land grabbing in Romania is reaching a blatant level but mobilisation against it is scaling up too. On the 26-27th of September, 2015, Eco Ruralis hosted in Cluj Napoca the first meeting of a newly established Working Group on the Right to Land. During the gathering, Eco Ruralis members and supporters debated important land related problems faced by peasants and agroecological food producers: lack of transparency behind large land acquisitions, equitable access to land for young and future farmers and land policies oriented towards land concentration. The meeting specified future collaboration by the group in order to intervene on the issue of land grabbing and fair access to land in Romania. Defining land grabbing generated an interesting debate inside the group. Several criteria were raised, taking into consideration quantitative and qualitative indicators of what is a land grab. First of all, we noted the duality of the Romanian countryside, where more than half of the available lands are cultivated by small farmers, while the other part is controlled by companies and other actors. This obviously opens up […]

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Retail Empires Pile into Eastern Europe with World Bank Loans

The Eastern European entrance of Lidl and Kaufland, supermarket retail chains owned by a German corporate group, were financed with loans from public money. According to an investigation by The Guardian, almost 900 million Euro of public funds coming from the World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) were injected to develop hundreds of supermarkets packed with cheap, imported food. This leaves peasants and other local food producers, largely ignored by these retailers, unable to compete. These public institutions, funded by taxpayers and owned by governments, have explicit mandates to increase local development in the countries where they spend their money. The World Bank also has an additional, specific mandate to reduce global poverty. An International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found that 1,000 World Bank projects approved between 2004 and 2013 forced 3.4 million people from their homes, grabbed their land, or damaged their livelihood. The banks claim that their funding for Lidl and Kaufland would create jobs, opening new markets for local producers and bringing “good quality, affordable food” to poor […]