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European Commission - Press release

European Commission puts town twinning, remembrance of Europe’s history and civil society debate about Europe at the heart of new ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme

Brussels, 14 December 2011 –Today, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme that aims to increase citizens' awareness and understanding of the European Union. The programme, which runs from 2014 to 2020 and has a budget of €229 million, will support activities to increase awareness and citizens' understanding of the EU, its values and history, such as the remembrance of Europe’s past and partnerships between cities (town-twinning). It will also help people become more engaged in civic and democratic activities through debates and discussions on EU-related issues.

"The financial crisis has made Europe more important than ever before for the daily lives of citizens and for public debate. It is therefore more important than ever to support projects that allow citizens and civil society at large to become involved in EU affairs,” said Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "The ‘European for Citizens’ programme only has a small budget, but can help thousands of small projects, notably at local and regional level, that are very relevant for civil society organisations that are engaged in transnational projects and a dialogue across borders. The new Programme should stimulate civil society debate about the EU as well as concrete projects which take place close to citizens, such as town twinning.”

The current ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme 2007-2013 already provides a legal framework to support a wide range of activities and organisations promoting European citizenship. As part of helping citizens become aware of the different aspects of European citizenship, the new ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme will support think tanks, citizens' groups and other civil society organisations. In addition, it will promote better understanding of the EU, its history and values, and knowledge of the impact of EU policies on their daily lives. Under the remembrance part of the programme, citizens engage in a reflection on the history of European integration, its identity and its goals.

The new programme will complement the Commission’s Citizenship Report 2010 (see IP/10/1390).and its proposal to designate 2013 as the ‘European Year of Citizens’ (IP/11/959).

Background

In June 2011, the Commission adopted the multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020 (see press pack). The Commission is now complementing this framework with new specific programmes for the next financial period.

The current ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme (2007-2013) comes to an end on 31 December 2013. It gives citizens the chance to participate in making Europe more united, to develop a European identity, to foster a sense of ownership of the EU, and to enhance tolerance and mutual understanding. To date, with a modest budget of €215 million, it has supported more than 9,000 projects per year through project grants and operational support. It reaches more than 1 million European citizens per year through thousands of projects launched at local, regional and European level.

Thanks to the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme, civil society organisations can develop their capacity and mobilise citizens at the local level to debate issues that have an impact on their daily lives – such as the economy, jobs or environment – in a European context. They can also engage in transnational partnerships that lead to the exchange of best practices and to increased cooperation with the European institutions.

Town twinning is a good example of how citizens learn from each other, respect each other and jointly develop local projects.

For more information

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Contacts :

Matthew Newman (+32 2 296 24 06)

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)


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