Dear all,

I look back on an interesting and fruitful year together with all of you.

During the last year a lot has happened.

As restrictions became milder, I managed to visit Slovenia and France before inviting all of Europe to Halmstad, Sweden. Then everything closed down, again. Different speed in different countries. I understand that many have lost loved and close ones during the last two years, and my thoughts are with them. Nevertheless, I imagine many of you are tired of restrictions coming up again, and I am too.  For me it helps to look back on all positive things that have happened and dream big and wild on the future!



We have, with EKEP (ELARD Knowledge Exchange Platform) and Ms Kristiina Tammets, been working on several calls during the year. Two of them just recently came through, one on youth and one one energy, and this is why we will be hiring! The first call for applications has already been launched and we have also already received the first applications. The recruitment will continue after the holidays and my aim is that we will be able to support our office and the European Rural Parliament 5th Gathering (coming up September 2022, with our polish members) in these themes through these new possbilities!

ELARD has been very active in shaping the Long Term Vision on the Future of Europe, a vision which I fully support, but I believe that the work has not even started. Now we all need to help putting these words into action, and also reminding others that it needs to be done. The year 2022 we will be busy doing that. I am very happy that Leader France has decided to come back to us, the idea of a rural agenda for EU seems appealing to me and I will keep exploring in what extent we can make use of this together with Leader France. ELARD is for sure aiming to take a seat at the rural pact from the commission in 2022. After the French presidency of the European council, I look forward to cooperate with our Czech colleagues, since Czech Republic will take over the presidency of the European council in summer 2022.

We have hired Ms Beata Styczén, a woman I look forward to spending a lot more time with in 2022! Working tightly together in a team with Beata has been rewarding since we are persons that complement each other very well. Ms Annie Linsemark has been helping out from our local LAG-office, especially for the LEADER 30 years event, and it has been absolutely fabolous to have a team of people working together for ELARD. I look forward to 2022 with these two assets, and also more team members!

We have -finally -changed banks and hope that KBC will be more service minded than ING has been.

Some of the highlights certainly came in the end, the physical celebration of LEADER 30 years with many of you! It is not just fun, it is essential to us humans to interact physically, and this was very clear to me when almost all my dear international colleagues came together in one place, after two long years of virtual meetings… In physical interaction is where action is. Not in front of the screen, but between real people, truly connecting. It was so hard and sad to hear of those of you that could not join becuse of covid-related reasons, but I think we might need to get used to missing some people at the meetings for some time still, and arrange for hybrid meetings. But we cannot cancel all meetings anymore.

Finally, getting the trust to be chairing this organisation for one more year, fills me with humbleness and honour and I promise that I will do my best. Together with you! I also thank Leader France and BAG-LAG for stepping up for the vice-presidency. ELARD needs strong members taking responsibility. I want to thank the whole council for shaping this year together with me, and also Kristiina for her work with EKEP, into which I know she puts a lot of voluntary time.

So let´s rest and prepare for continuing in  full speed into 2022. I wish you all joyful and relaxing holidays and look forward to meeting you again in 2022!  Stronger together!

See you on the other side of New Years Eve,

Marion Eckardt

President of ELARD