CSOs in rural areas?
The transition from centralized authoritarian regimes and national one-party rule in many Western Balkan (WB) countries that took place in the 1990s led to a new political era both locally and internationally. Companies, ie. the states of this region have turned to civilian rule and the democratization of local political arenas through decentralization of governance. This new era has brought with it promises of greater and better opportunities, among other, also for people from rural areas, and thus for increasing the responsibility of the state towards them in the development process. However, over time, it has become clear that this is not the case, and that people living in rural areas remain on the margins of social, political and professional development.
This is a special problem for the younger population, which remains vague in articulating their needs and is in some way excluded, sometimes rejected from the society. Young people in rural areas usually do not know what their rights are and are not used to using democratic tools to express them. Politicians are usually interested in this group of people only in the pre-election period. Most studies show that this group feels neglected. This situation can lead to disruption of their social and psychological development.
One of the options for them to become part of the system is to be more engaged in civil society organisations (CSOs). And as majority of youth in rural areas are somehow realted to agriculture, there are some particularities here which are coming to us with the EU integration process.
CSOs across the WB are more or less active on a local, regional and international levels, but however still not as active as in societies with a higher level of democracy development. Lack of democracy in the societies in which they work, make them still quite vulnerable. Generally, WB CSOs are mainly settled in the cities, concerned about the rights of the people living in the urban areas and the close neighborhood. They usually have a limited number of the members and with actvities usually concerning the problems of the urban population. Registration/establishing of these CSOs, have been conducted by local laws.
When it is about activities of CSOs in rural regions, and in the point of view of the EU integrations, there are certain obligations that come with the EU integration. These obligations are prescribed by the next legislative: Commission Decisions 84/247/EEC, 89/501/EEC, 89/504/EEC, 90/254/EEC and 92/353/EEC, but and others. There also importnat acts concerning the producers organisations, as are: EU Regulation 1308/2013, 511/2012 and others. Implementation of these decisions among the CSOs active in livestock production is quite poor, and there are just a few organizations that reach the status of the Breeding organizations, as prescribed by EU legal norms. And these are obligate to implement. Why this is important? All WB countries are faced with huge migration rates, both, people which are migrating to other countries (mostly EU) and people migrating from the countryside to cities. Thus, the possibilities for their development are also quite limited, compared to cities CSOs. People from cities are also migrating abroad, but new people from rural side or smaller towns are directly facing to this situation. Almost nobody comes to the countryside. Soon, if we do not do anything, CSOs from the countryside will have no members.
So implementation of EU legislation concerning Breeding and Producers organisations can be one of the models for sustainable life in rural regions of Western Balkans.
Miljan Erbez, PhD