Written by Gianluca Sgueo
How does the European Union contribute to fostering an understanding of its history and diversity? And how does it attempt to boost EU civic participation? Europe for citizens is an EU programme aimed at encouraging direct participation in EU policies by citizens, and promoting dialogue between the EU institutions, civil society organisations and municipalities.
Europe for citizens draws from the first Community action programme designed to promote a more active European citizenship, launched in 2004. In the wake of the unsuccessful attempt to create a Constitution for Europe, the programme was given its current name – Europe for citizens – and established to run from 2007-2013. In 2014, following a favourable interim evaluation conducted in 2010, the programme was extended to 2014-20.
With over 5 million citizens (directly or indirectly) involved in the programme, and €185.5 million available for the period 2014-2020, Europe for citizens planned funding for two main areas:
- ‘European remembrance‘, a programme with a total of 42 project grants and 7 specific annual operating grants scheduled between 2014 and 2020. For 2015, projects fall into two priority areas: crimes against humanity during World War II; and World War II and its consequences for Europe’s architecture.
- ‘Democratic engagement and civic participation‘, which focuses on ‘Debating the future of Europe’ in 2015. The aim is to foster discussion on the future of Europe, stimulating new forms of civic participation and strengthening those that already exist. Overall, during 2014-2020, 312 town twinning projects, 42 urban networks, 33 civil society project action grants and 29 operating grants are scheduled. These are divided in three parts: (1) ‘town twinning‘ – funding projects for twinned towns to debate issues on the European political agenda; (2) ‘networks of towns‘ – funding long-term partnerships between towns and associations of citizens with shared interests; (3) ‘civil society projects‘ – supporting projects that aim at enhancing citizen participation in the EU policy-making process.