Read the Charter
We believe that village life is very important for the future and prosperity of Europe and that everything possible should be done to promote that objevtive.
Incorporated into the Charter is the importance of rural development, culture and cultural heritage, agriculture, tourism, transport, education and the economy.
We ask all Local Councils to adopt this Charter on a non party-political basis as a positive way forward.
The signatories of this Charter feel responsible for carrying out the ideas and taking action to achieve the objectives.
Wijk aan Zee, december 10th 1999
Maggy Steen, Aldeburgh (England)
Kalle Kipus, Killingi-Nõmme (Estonia)
Michel Balbot, Mellionnec (France)
Spyros Bogdanos, Paxos (Greece)
Massimo Palazzeschi, Pergine Valdarne (Italy)
Luis Antonio Noriega, Porrúa (Spain)
Rudi Krosch, Ströbeck (Germany)
Lone Akselen, Tommerup (Denmark)
Magda Berndsen-Jansen, Wijk aan Zee (Netherlands)
Hana Sejkorová, Bystré (Czech Republic)
Leonora Becker, Palkonya (Hungary)
• Actual list of the villages that signed the charter of the villages since the 10th of December 1999
CHARTER OF THE VILLAGES
In 1996, when Kopenhagen was the Cultural Capital of Europe, the Danish village of Tommerup proclaimed itself to be the Cultural Village of Europe. In 1999 Wijk aan Zee did the same thing, after years of being walked over. Wijk aan Zee connected internationally with villages in 11 European countries. Al these think it to be important to continue this initiative and have asked the French village of Mellionec to be the Cultural Village of Europe in the year 2000. Together they want to show Europe does not consist of cities only: there are villages as well.
Every human being has a world of his own. He is an individual.
Every human being has a father and a mother, his family.
Even when he does not know these people.
Every human being has an environment in which he grows up and which he gets to know well. This is his territory.
And all these worlds are set into a large world we call a community, or province, a region or a state or Europe or 'the' world.
The village is an old and tried form of a human's territory. It is the known world. Not only the things, but the people as well are familiar there. No matter how much the world changes, what technologies are developed, there will always be a difference between the familiar world and the less-known world. In this way cities and villages will not grow together.
When all that is known becomes unknown we speak of getting loose of ones roots. Our time knows many examples. Politics have worked hard at this 'fourth', this unknown world. But that resulted in a loss of attention for the 'territory', where a certain informal structure cannot be done without. There is not enough room for this. This led to indifference in villages which no longer see themselves as responsable and direct the responsability to the higher government if anything is wrong.
Many villages have adapted to the urban developments and have taken to the urban lifestyle to survive and given up their own identity. They became quiet and settled residential areas of the city.
The world as seen from the village.
The city culture is a culture of services. In the village the people are the important thing. And when it comes down to people they are not as unreliable as they are depicted. The village has room for meetings.
In a world "without borders" and with large scale urbanization, a human being needs his own place. Where all is big and more similar in form alienation and displacement arise. If village communities are dealt with respectfully the displacement needs not have as severe consequences as it does now and the prosperity that is there could be felt as prosperity much stronger.
In a village much knowledge about the local environment exists. Inhabitants feel involved in its development and support, conservation of the quality of the living-environment is a collective responsability.
The special thing about village culture is that it isn't aimed towards the product but towards the creation process.
Culture in cities is a product people primarily experience individually. In a village culture is connected with social elements. People do it together.
Attention is asked for the small independent entrepreneur, who does not make huge turnovers, but who is often a very important support of the village culture and social cohesion.
Attention to the cultural heritage of the village which reflects the history of the village and defines its identity. People should be proud of their cultural roots which are a treasure for the next generations. The international exchange of ideas schould be encouraged.
Villagers are sensible to solve problems among themselves and use the judicial system only as a last resort. Who, within a village community, hopes to find justice in a court should take into account an unwanted rupture in the social structure of the village.
Informal structures are of great importance to the village. Informal agreements where result counts more than form, improvisation and commitment that goes without saying are most obvious. A village can easily get into conflict with higher levels of government which can not deal with this.
Hospitality is a true characteristic of village life. In a village the stanger has an identity and interpersonal contact is possible.
How the world should view villages.
1. Village economy.
The small independent enterpreneur needs a boost. He is not only important for employment, but also for the social structure of the village. Villages need an adequate level of services to conform the vision and needs of the inhabitants.
2. Food production.
The farmer and horticulturalist have been important people in the village and the country since ancient times. They are people who grow food at the top of the food chain. Now many of them leave the country or just quit. Recognition is needed of the fact that good farmers and horticulturalists are needed to have good food and not just 'economic structures'.
3. Village culture.
Village culture is usually not too expensive. Often availability and exploitation of accommodation are what's important. If there is no accommodation, help as a government. Judge locally how, make solutions to fit and no blueprints.
4. Village planning.
There are problems with builders who want to put buildings in villages of which the villagers do not think that they'll fit in. The scale of the existing buildings together with the surrounding environment determines the planology of the village. Building and environmental policy are still treated too much as separate subjects.
5. Village democracy.
National political parties usually are not involved in village democracy. The boundaries they set can also obstruct solutions in the village. Community and provincial, national and supranational governments should spend time developing policy to deal with this phenomenon adequately. Political choices in a village are very tightly connected to personal responsibility and involvement of the inhabitants.
6. Village society.
In a village people are not divided into categories like consumers, participants in traffic, single people, the needy etc. In a village there are no abstract problems and ideas, but problems and ideas of and about people. Problems and solutions have faces. Social cohesion - elsewhere supported by policy - occurs naturally in a village. Policy and government support have to take these natural occurences into account as well.
7. Village and nature.
Nature develops slowly, much slower than human activities. It's urgently necessary to take measurements tot protect and preserve nature and to uphold biological diversity.
8. Village and world.
Large scale developments will not pass by the villages. They will be affected by the consequences of the large scale infrastructural regulations for traffic, industry etc. Village interests are not subject but equal to other interests of society and deserve careful consideration. Using the NIMBY-argument is a denial of this respect-worthy interest.
NIMBY - Not In My Back Yard