THE NATIONAL RURAL DEVELOPMENT NETWORK
(Plan of Action)
1. The Legal Framework
According to Council Regulation (CE) No 1698/2005, article 68, it is provided that each Member State must set up a National Rural Network that would bring together the organizations and administrations involved in rural development. The National Rural Development Network (NRDN) represents an opportunity for a better integration of the approaches in the agricultural and forestry areas, social-economic environment, financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, as well as for a better alignment with the territorial dynamics/context.
2. The Members of the Networks
This multi-national partnership between organizations of the civil society has a clearly defined goal, that of strengthening the civil society in the rural areas, and to promote intra- and trans-national cooperation in this field. Within this context, the National Rural Development Programme (NRDP) will gather actors from different sectors, and will have a crucial role, since it contributes to the improvement of communication between the participants to rural economy.
The National Rural Development Network will contribute to stimulating the establishment of active partnerships between the public, private, and non-governmental sectors, in this way bringing together the representatives of the local/central public authorities involved in rural development, local communities, institutions, interested NGOs (professional associations, foundations), etc. The success of rural development will greatly depend on these partnerships. Consequently, the National Rural Development Network will have to be formed and administrated in a manner that is open, dynamic, and accessible to all those interested and involved in the areas of rural development.
The existence of a network of public and private organizations (NGOs) in Romania, active in local development, some having experience in the development of certain European programmes or development projects, that may rapidly engage in the development of rural communities, may represent the starting point for the creation of a National Rural Development Network that will evolve in time and within which several mutations shall appear, in different directions, as far as the range of subjects, participants, and performed actions are concerned.
3. The Role and Mission of the Network
The principal role of the Network is to facilitate the exchange of experience, to support the implementation and evaluation of the Rural Development Programme, and to ensure the information flow between the local, national, and European levels.
The mission of the Network comprises a strategic component – for the establishment of the main directions of action of the Network (the collection and dissemination of information concerning the programmes and rural development policies at the local level; the superior capitalization of the actors’ competences; rural development in general) and a technical component – for the implementation of the strategic elements (setting up a data base, a guide, a website, the organization of seminaries to foster communication and transparency; consultation services directly addressing the beneficiaries).
4. The Plan of Action
The activity of the Network shall be coordinated by a National Rural Development Network Coordination Committee, while at the regional level, resource centres (transmitters) will be established, supporting the actions of the respective committee by maintaining permanent contact with the local beneficiaries.
The action plan will encompass at least the following:
- The identification and analysis of the best practices and information as far as these are concerned ;
- The management of the network;
- The organization of exchanges of experience and know-how;
- The preparation of training programmes for the formation of Local Action Groups;
- Technical assistance for cooperation;
In the afferent calendar, the stages of the working plan for NRDN are presented, as follows:
- The identification of the actors involved in rural development;
- The elaboration of the Terms of Reference;
- The elaboration of the procedure for the selection of the Network administrator;
- The identification and establishment of the components of the National Rural Development Network Coordination Committee;
- The launching of the call for proposal;
- The submission of the offers to participate in the selection;
- The selection of the organization that will administer the Network;
a) The identification of the actors involved in rural development
During this stage, the creation of a data base of the actors in the rural area involved in rural development (identification, analysis, and presentation of partners) is necessary. In this sense, various actions will be taken, on several plans, namely:
- The establishment of contacts (phone, addresses) and discussions which will involve the Directorates for Agriculture and Rural Development, NGOs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administrative Reform, National Agency for Agriculture Consulting, producers’ associations etc.
- The launching of an announcement on the MADR website, inviting all the organizations involved in the rural development process in Romania, to offer their availability to participate in the functioning and implementation of the NRDN.
b) The elaboration of the Terms of Reference
MADR, through the General Direction for Rural Development – the Management Authority for NRDP shall elaborate the Terms of Reference, and will subsequently launch a tender procedure in order to select an organization to administer the Network (in accordance with the European legislation in force). The competitive offers shall be received both from commercial societies and consultancy firms, as well as from civil associations and non-governmental organizations.
In order to complete this task, a number of activities will be performed:
- Elaboration of the Terms of Reference, in order to create the structure necessary for the functioning of the National Development Network, and the launching of the tender procedure as it has been shown above
c) The elaboration of the procedure for the selection of the Network administrator
The constitution of the National Selection Committee
The selection of the organization that will administer the Network will be the responsibility of the National Selection Committee. The members of the Committee will be the representatives of the competent ministries involved (the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administrative Reform, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, National Agency for Agriculture Consulting), representatives of the academic field. The observers of the selection process will be entities of civil society, and economic and social partners.
The selection deadline
The President of the National Selection Committee establishes the selection procedure, in agreement with the members of the Committee, as well as the time period in which the selection will take place. The selection procedures and the criteria for establishing the scoring will be agreed upon by taking into consideration the capacity to administer and organize, and the experience, in order to establish the functional structures and administration of the Network, correlated with the plan of action of its implementation.
Moreover, in addition to the administration activity, the organization which will manage the NRDN will have to prove its skills in continuously developing the functioning mechanism of the Network (modifications and improvements from different sources regarding the array of subjects, participants, and performed actions, the creation of links with other rural development networks, including maintaining contact and connections with he European Rural Development Network etc.).
The establishment of the results following the selection
Subsequent to the analysis of the application forms participating in the selection, the National Selection Committee will make the results public.
d) The identification and establishment of the constituents of the National Rural Development Network Coordination Committee
The activity of the Network will be coordinated by a National Rural Development Network Coordination Committee (under the direction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), and, if deemed necessary, at the regional level, resource centres will be established, to support the actions of the respective Committee through the maintenance of permanent contact with the local beneficiaries.
e) The launching of the call for proposal
In order for the organizations involved in rural development and interested in the administration of the National Rural Development Network to participate in the selection, announcements will be launched on MADR’s website, as well as in the written press.
The announcements will contain references to the conditions of participation and the submission deadline.
Moreover, the announcements will make reference to the minimum criteria for eligibility and selection, the procedure for establishing the scoring, as well as the necessary forms the candidates would have to fill in, in order to put together the application form.
f) The submission of the offers to participate in the selection
A sixty-day period shall be granted for the submission and registration of the application offers, considering the previous experience of launching the call for applications for the training courses for the LEADER Axis, when the extension of the period for submitting the forms was deemed necessary, as a result of the small number of forms initially submitted.
g) The selection of the organization that will administer the Network
Based on the procedure of eligibility and selection criteria agreed upon, the score for each particular criterion will be awarded, and as a result of the final scoring obtained, the organization with the greatest score will be given the role of administrator of the National Rural Development Network.
The announcement will be made public on the MADR website, together with the deadline for the submission of the potential contestations.
Elements which Should be Encompassed by the Terms of Reference
Other activities connected with the implementation of this priority (transnational presentations and events, consultancy, field tours – both in the country and in the European Union states etc.).
- The information and sensitization of the actors involved in rural development, communication and dissemination of information concerning the National Rural Development Programme and the Community funds towards the rural population, the popularization of access to information and services;
- The activity of the external consultants for the implementation and monitoring of this Network;
- Actions that include the exchange of experience and knowledge between the various subjects involved in the process, the identification, collection, dissemination and transfer of good practices, implemented actions and innovations at the regional, national, and international level etc.;
- The administration of the Network and the continuous development of the functioning mechanism of the Network (modifications and improvements from different sources regarding the array of subjects, participants, and performed actions, the creation of links with other rural development networks);
- Analysis papers and thematic studies, expertise and control;
- Maintaining contact and connections with he European Rural Development Network;
- The creation and development of the website in order to inform the great public, including the creation of a special site for the announcements concerning the demand/offer of partnerships;
- The organization and holding of meetings within the Network (with the Management Committee, yearly conferences, seminaries and technical meetings etc.) and the organization of national and transnational workshops with the main actors of the Rural Development Network and other representatives of the organizations involved in rural development);
- The creation of a data base with the actors in the rural areas involved in rural development (the identification, analysis and presentation of partners);
- The development of transnational projects (the search for transnational cooperation opportunities, following and being informed about the cooperation projects);
- The creation and development of software applications in order to facilitate the functioning of the Network;
- Training for cooperation projects (the development of training programmes for the LAGs in the formation process and technical assistance for inter-territorial and transnational cooperation);