Monday, 24 February 2014 13:55

Champion rural issues, politicians urged

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Champion rural issues, politicians urged

CANDIDATES in this year's European elections are being urged to champion rural issues.

The Countryside Alliance said it was writing to more than 500 British candidates who hope to become MEPs, asking them to champion four key rural issues.

The four issues are digital communications, including broadband and mobile phone signal coverage; country of origin food labelling, animal welfare; and firearms and shooting.

The UK component of the 2014 European Parliament election is scheduled to be held on Thursday 22 May 2014.

Countryside Alliance head of policy Sarah Lee said: "We want to ensure that prospective MEPs are aware of the vitally important issues facing rural communities across Europe."

It was important that candidates campaigned to ensure that British farmers, communities and consumers were at the heart of what they did in parliament.

"For too long European policy has focussed on doing something to the countryside rather than for the countryside.

"We believe rural communities need fairer representation in Brussels."

There is increasing demand for, and reliance on, digital connectivity across Europe, says the alliance's manifesto.

The EU's desire for a connected continent is underpinned by ambitious targets to boost ultra-fast broadband by 2020, but it fails to address mobile connectivity.

With mobile broadband traffic increasing by 66% a year, the manifesto calls for networks and coverage to meet demand, while educating consumers about the benefits.

"Digital growth will drive the EU and UK economy forward, which is why policies are needed both at European and UK level to meet this demand for digital connectivity," says the document.

"We must ensure rural communities are not forgotten."

A full copy of the alliance manifesto can be downloaded here.

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