Declaration Towards a “European Greenways Network” 

Lille Declaration, 12th of September 2000

In the light of the commitments made during the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, (Rio de Janeiro, 3rd-14th June 1992) and later developments in the context of Agenda 21,

In the light of the provisions of the Charter of European Cities and Towns towards Sustainability (Aalborg, Denmark, 27th May 1994),

In the light of the EU Framework Directive on ambient air quality (27 September 1996),

In the light of the European Spatial Development Perspectives approved in Potsdam in May 1999 by the Informal Council of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning, which aims to contribute to sustainable spatial development on a large scale, in particular by the harmonization of social and economic spatial needs while taking into account the ecological and cultural potential of these places,

Taking into account the growing demand for the development and provision of services to facilitate non-motorized travel to reduce congestion, noise and air pollution,

Taking into account user demand for spaces for low risk leisure activities, which are accessible to all, and the beneficial effects on public health,

As non-motorized routes facilitate and encourage sustainable tourism as well as being conducive to the development and maintenance of local socio-economic fabric, particularly in rural areas and areas of economic renewal,

Taking into account the positive effects of the existing greenway network on the conservation of the landscape and natural environment, on the conservation and enhancement of local heritage, on economic and social development, on the expansion of non-motorized travel,

Taking into account the positive impact of the greenway network on the quality of urban and suburban life by creating areas for recreation and travel, rehabilitating industrial sites and urban waste-land,

Taking into account the potential greenways hold to encourage non-motorized travel for journeys between the home, schools, work and recreational areas, etc,

Taking into account the complementary role a greenway network can play within an intermodal transport framework, with an efficient public transport system offering combined services such as train/tram/bus, + bicycle, bicycle stands, etc.

We, the participants at the Lille meeting of 11th and 12th September 2000, wish to see develop a “European Greenway Network” reserved for non-motorized users, comprising for the most part, greenways and, to a lesser extent, lightly trafficked, low-speed roads. This network would provide continuous long distance itineraries as well as local networks for local journeys and leisure activities, and would offer a combination of services ensuring their reliability, continuity and attractiveness.

Having analyzed different European experiences and studied existing definitions, we propose adopting the following working definition for greenways: “Communication routes reserved exclusively for non-motorized journeys, developed in an integrated manner which enhances both the environment and quality of life of the surrounding area. These routes should meet satisfactory standards of width, gradient, and surface condition to ensure that they are both user-friendly and low -risk for users of all abilities. In this respect, canal towpaths and disused railway lines are a highly suitable resource for the development of greenways».

Taking into account the numerous European projects which have been carried out, including the greenways referenced in the “Guide des Bonnes Pratiques” produced by the EGWA with the support of the European Union, we, the signatories to this Declaration towards a “European Greenway Network”, commit ourselves to work towards the development of a network of greenways and we request

The European Union

To consider the European Greenway Network as one of the EU’s priority objectives,

To ensure that the European Greenway Network and greenways in general, are eligible for funding under European funding programs, in particular the Structural Funds,

To facilitate the adoption of a common definition and the harmonization of standards of quality and way-markings,

To facilitate the development of a common methodology for the study and identification of routes, which would favour the economic and social development of the areas crossed, while also taking into account the quality of the surrounding natural areas,

To facilitate the definition, construction, assessment, and the promotion of the European Greenway Network,

To facilitate the establishment of trans-European routes and their extension into member countries of the Council of Europe,

To put in place a European consultative committee on greenways

The member states of fhe EU

to ensure coherent national greenway networks through the identification of outline framework plans and common standards on quality and way marking,

to put in place long term budget lines for the planning, implementation, management and maintenance of national greenway networks,

to support national campaigns aimed at mobilizing central, regional and local authorities in relation to greenways policies and issues,

Regional and local authorities

to commit themselves to the development of greenway networks:

  • by integrating greenways as structural elements into their development plans for urban and rural areas, dedicating a percentage of their roads and transport budgets,
  • by preserving, through designation or acquisition, disused transport lines, their engineering structures and service buildings to enable greenways and ancillary services to be realized along them,
  • by enhancing the natural, cultural and built heritage along the line or in the vicinity of greenways,
  • by promoting, in their area, greenways as a high quality, environmentally friendly infrastructure,
  • by promoting the setting up of services for greenways users,
  • by working towards these objectives in consultation with all interested associations,

railway, inland waterway, and forestry management authorities

to give preference to the reuse and restoration of infrastructures and equipment that would aid greenways development,

to adapt existing infrastructures for use as greenways progressively as the opportunities arise during the evolution of their work,

to facilitate the connections between greenways and rail, ferry, and inland water transport.


to participate in the development of greenways at local, regional, national and European level,

to monitor the quality of greenways in partnership with local authorities,

to take part in the promotion, and popularizing the use of green ways,

To facilitate the adoption and the development of all these proposals, we, the signatories of this Declaration, propose the setting up of:

  • a permanent Europe-wide mission « Greenway Network » entrusted to the EGWA liaising with the European Consultative Committee requested from the European Commission, to draw up and finalize a European Greenways Charter, for the promotion, the information, the co-ordination and the evaluation of the development of greenways
  • a bi-annual European conference to evaluate policy,
  • national platforms for promotion and co-ordination of development of greenways
  • specific budget lines within the European Union, the member states, and regional authorities.


12th of September 2000