This action aims to bring people from different parts of Europe together in order to promote mutual understanding, a sense of ownership of the European Union and the emergence of a European identity to complement local and regional ones. It encourages meetings, exchanges and debates among European citizens from different countries and through different means.
Action 1 funds and supports different kinds of activities: town twinning, participatory citizens’ projects as well as innovative actions. The support measures aim to help organisations in the field to develop high-quality activities.
Town twinning has long been an important mechanism for developing active European citizenship and a sense of shared identity. One major advantage of town twinning is that it involves large numbers of citizens directly, illustrating the benefits of EU integration at the local level and helping citizens from different Member States build bounds and develop a sense of common European identity.
Citizen meetings are the traditional mechanisms for town-twinning exercises. The Commission supports gatherings of a wide range of citizens and citizens’ groups from twinned towns, benefiting from the partnership between municipalities to develop strong, informal and personal relations between their citizens.
These meetings should be characterised by active civic participation. This could be done by involving the local community in the planning and implementation of the project; granting participants an active role through displays, workshops, joint cultural performances, etc.; and ensuring that meetings are truly a joint endeavour between all the towns involved.
The idea of networking is a major town twinning innovation in the 2007-2013 programme. Towns cooperate with their own twinning partners, as well as with the partners of their partners. This can help them to explore a particular topic or theme, to share resources or interests, to gain influence or to face common challenges. Support for networking will help them to take full advantage of this synergy.
Action 1 supports the development of a new batch of citizens’ projects that aim to enhance citizen participation in the EU process through innovative activities. Actions could include the establishment of citizens’ panels and juries, enabling Europeans to voice their views on various EU-related issues.
Citizens’ projects should employ innovative methods to bring together citizens from different walks of life, to collaborate on or debate common European issues at local and EU level (migration, security, employment, environment, multiculturalism etc.).
This measure was tested through a series of pilot projects which were launched in a call for proposals in April 2006 and ran until the summer of 2007. The selection of projects focused on experimental and innovative methods for enhancing citizens' participation.
EU-backed town twinning actions usually result in a wealth of experiences and know-how. If these are not transmitted, they could either be lost or not benefit as many stakeholders as they potentially could.
In order to improve the quality of town twinning activities funded under action 1, support measures have been set up to fund the exchange of good practice, pool experience and help revitalise dormant twinning relationships.
These support measures should be coordinated and managed by intermediary bodies with broad expertise in the field and use efficient tools to improve the quality of the projects.
The European Commission establishes partnerships with relevant organisations, which are selected through an open and transparent procedure. Within these, the Commission co-funds the support measures they carry out.