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Regional Policy

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Town Twinning

Support for actions to promote town-twinning


Official title

"Financial assistance from the European Commission for town-twinning".


Legal references

  • A budget heading to financially support the twinning of towns is voted annually by the European Parliament. It follows on from an initiative launched in 1988 by the Parliament when it adopted the Fontaine report (published on behalf of the Committee of Youth, Education, Information and Sports - Ref: DOC A2-0312/87 of the European Parliament).

  • The 2001 call for proposals: OJ C320 of 9 November 2000



The European Commission's town-twinning programme promotes the strengthening of existing links between twinned towns and municipalities and the development of new twinning initiatives. The aims are to bring the people of Europe closer together and to strengthen the dialogue between the European Union and citizens, thus reinforcing European awareness and creating a more participatory European citizenship.



Towns, municipalities, local government associations and local authorities of the Member States of the European Union and eligible third countries: Central and Eastern European Countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia); the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania); Cyprus; Malta and Turkey.



The 2001 call has 3 deadlines for the submission of grant applications: 22 December 2000 for actions implemented between 1 Feburary and 30 April 2001; 9 March 2001 for actions implemented between 1 May and 30 September 2001; 10 August 2001 for actions implemented between 1 October and 31 December 2001.


Nature of activities

Support will be given to two types of activities:

  • exchanges between citizens from twinned towns;
  • conferences and meetings on a theme of common European interest and training seminars for organisers of town-twinning schemes.

1. Exchanges between citizens

Priority will be given to projects addressing the following issues in the context of European integration.

  • dialogue on major topical European issues;
  • fundamental rights and European citizenship;
  • combatting racism and xenophobia;
  • environmental protections;
  • cultural diversity in Europe;
  • young people and education (school networks, e-learning);
  • the role of the disabled in society;
  • development of the local economy and partnerships;
  • information networks and multimedia communication.

Priority will also be given to:

  • municipalities in regions where there are few twinning arrangements and involving the applicant countries for accession in particular;
  • multilateral exchanges (concerning twinned towns from several countries);
  • twinned towns and municipalities which are disadvantaged because of their geographical location, or because they are situated in less-developed regions;
  • small twinned towns (fewer than 5000 inhabitants);
  • exchanges mainly involving young people and women;
  • exchanges involving towns and municipalities of countries whose language is not widespread;
  • actions concerning European campaigns or events;
  • actions ensuring the best relationship between results and costs.

Applications must be submitted by the municipal authority or the chairperson of the twinning committee of the host town. The application must be submitted in the context of existing or new twinning arrangements. In the latter case, evidence that twinning is in preparation must be supplied.

2. Conferences and training seminars

The conferences must concern themes of common European interest in the context of twinning arrangements and must involve persons with an in-depth knowledge of the subject matters. Priority will be given to projects addressing the same themes and features as those listed under the 'Exchanges between citizens' section.

The training seminars should provide twinning officers with the knowledge and skills which are indispensable for promoting twinning arrangements with a high quality content. Preference will be given to training seminars in the following areas:

  • theory and practice of twinning arrangements for contemporary towns;
  • treatment of European themes in twinning arrangements;
  • comparison of twinning work in different countries;
  • transnational cooperation between municipalities at European level;
  • possibility of information on the European Union;
  • administrative structures and missions of the local authorities in the European context.

Applications must be submitted by local or regional authorities or associations of local authorities in the eligible countries. Applicants must put forward a programme designed to intensify dialogue and exchanges of experience, indicating clearly the objectives, methods used and expected results.

The following types of actions are not eligible:

  • exchanges between municipalities in the same country;

  • exchanges for which applications are submitted by the guest town;

  • exchanges between applicant countries only;

  • exchanges involving fewer than 10 persons from the guest municipality or, in the case of multilateral exchanges involving more than five municipalities, exchanges involving fewer than five persons per guest municipality;

  • conferences and seminars involving fewer than 20 persons;

  • exchanges mainly involving local government representatives of municipal officials;

  • exchanges, conferences and seminars entitled to assistance under other Community programmes;

  • exchanges with a purely tourist, leisure or sports content;

  • exchanges, conferences and seminars intended to make a profit;

  • exchanges which have already received assistance in the preceding year for an action with an identical content and target group.


Rural dimension or example of actions in rural areas

Under LEADER I, the West Cornwall local action group (United Kingdom) organised a first visit of elected officials and practioners from the Centre-Ouest Bretagne group (France). The French group subsequently played host to its Cornish counterparts. The two groups pursued this link, which led them to work together on various LEADER projects, particularly those of a tourism or cultural nature such as the "Celtic tourist itinerary" and the "Maritime Celtic Olympic Games". These exchanges are a direct consequence of existing twinning arrangements between Cornwall County Council and the Conseil Général du Finistère.


Nature and amount of financial support

The grant for all activities may not exceed 50% of the total amount of the eligible project costs. The organisers must provide a statement attesting to a minimum of 50% match-funding for the project. The upper and lower ceilings of the grant are respectively EUR 50 000 and 1 000 per project.

The amount of the subsidy is calculated on the basis of a qualitative appraisal (its European dimension, degree of innovation, etc) and quantitative appraisal (number of priority aspects, participants and towns).


European Union financial support

The total Community budget for twinning projects submitted under the 2001 call is EUR 10 million.



Applications for grants will be evaluated by a selection committee established by the European Commission. This committee will advise the Commission on the advisability of granting a subsidy and the amount to be granted depending on the theme addressed and the nature of the action. It reserves the right to ensure equitable geographical distribution of all the projects so as to guarantee optimum coverage of the Community territory.

Application forms for grants are available from the European Commission at the address mentioned below, the Offices of the Commission and European Parliament in each Member States, European and national twinning organisations (e.g. the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) or the United Towns Organisation (UTO)).


Communication means

The following application forms are available in the eleven official Community languages:

  • Exchanges between citizens from twinned towns;
  • Conferences and meetings on a given subject and training seminars for organisers of town-twinning schemes.

The forms can be obtained from the following postal and internet addresses:

  • European Commission
    Directorate-General for Education and Culture
    Unit "Communication with the public, partnerships with civil society - Town-twinning"
    Rue de la Loi 200
    Office VM-2 4/35
    B-1049 Brussels
    Tel: +32 2 295 26 85/37 40/03 08
    +32-2-299 47 28, +32-2-296 1087
    Fax: +32 2 296 23 89
    Email: or

  • European Commission, "Europe of towns and cities - A practical guide to town-twinning", Office for Official Publication of the European Communities, Luxembourg 1997, ISBN 92-827-8272-7.


Additional sources of information

  • Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR):
    14 Rue de Castiglione
    F-75001 Paris
    Tel: +33 1 44 50 59 59
    Fax: +33 1 44 50 59 60

  • United Towns Organisation (UTO)
    60 Rue la Boetie,
    F-75008 Paris
    Tel: +33 1 53 96 05 80
    Fax: +33 1 53 96 05 81



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