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Under this Programme, priority is given to certain themes of particular relevance for the development of an active European citizenship. The setting up of themes will also encourage synergies between projects working on the same issue and will ensure greater visibility and impact of the supported activities and of the Programme in general. Applicants under this Programme are invited to address in their projects one or more of these priority theme.
However, the Programme remains open to innovative, bottom-up projects, which do not fall within these priority themes.
Some of the themes will be relevant for the whole period of the Programme and will therefore have a permanent character. However, the way these issues are being tackled will depend on specific events or developments in the field. Therefore, a permanent priority can also give indications on aspects on which emphasis will be put in a given period.
In order to be able to react to new or very specific topics arising on the European agenda, annual priorities of relevance for this Programme and of a limited duration can be set up.
Priority will be given under this Programme to the following themes:
The important and rapid changes of the European Union make it necessary to engage citizens and civil society organizations in a deep, long lasting reflection on the future of Europe. This has been recognized in 2005 by the Heads of State and Government, which decided a reflection pause on the future of Europe after the ratification process of the Constitution was suspended. To support this reflection, the Commission proposed the Plan D to strengthen dialogue, debate and democracy in Europe. The Europe for Citizens Programme is an important tool in this context. It can be used to set up a structured dialogue in societies in view “of fostering a sense of ownership of the European Union among its citizens” as mentioned in the Programme objectives.
Vision of the future of the European Union is by definition linked to its basic values. This permanent priority includes therefore also dialogue and actions related to basic values such as human rights, tolerance, solidarity and fight against racism and xenophobia.
This permanent theme will be nourished by the developments in the process of European integration.
The concept of Active European Citizenship lies at the heart of this Programme. There is a need for further reflection on this concept of Active European Citizenship as well as need for development of tools and models adapted to citizens’ active participation in the construction of Europe at all levels. Therefore, the issues of active European Citizenship, participation and democracy are a permanent priority of this Programme. These issues will therefore be tackled by studies and reflections as well as by projects involving citizens and civil society organizations.
The successive enlargements of the European Union, the increased mobility resulting from the single market, the migration flows, old and new, are increasing interactions between European citizens. Consequently, they should be able to fulfill their potential in a more solidarity based society. Promoting participation of each citizen in intercultural dialogue through the structured co-operation with civil society is fundamental to creating a European identity and enhancing the various aspects of belonging to a community. European citizens should be aware of the importance of developing active European citizenship which is open to the world, respects cultural diversity and is based on the common values of the European Union.
The European societies are changing rapidly. For example issues like globalisation, transition towards a knowledge based economy, demographic developments, immigration, increasing individualism are recurrent challenges. In this context, the European Union has adopted a clear strategy for facing these challenges: the “Lisbon agenda” has set the following target for the EU: to become the most competitive knowledge based economy in the world.
The Europe for Citizens Programme will encourage actions dealing with these issues, giving a European perspective to people’s everyday life experience and demonstrating how the EU can improve their well being in an evolving environment.
The Programme has as an objective to bring Europe closer to its citizens. A very important aspect in this exercise is to raise citizens’ awareness of the results achieved trough European policies and actions in various policy fields.
Organisations which are based on a strong, pan-European membership and which are focused on specific issues belong to the stakeholders of this Programme. They are well placed for engaging their members and their audiences in projects or reflections on the concrete impact of EU policies in their field of interest. The Programme should therefore encourage actions, which provide citizens with opportunities to recognize, debate, assess and build opinions on these achievements.
The Programme's priorities for the year 2013 shall focus on contributing to the objectives set out for the European Year of Citizens by:
The Programme will thus support the promotion of European citizenship and democracy, comprising the development of understanding of the EU, its values and what it brings to citizens daily lives; and on the other hand, the empowerment of citizens to play a full part in the democratic life of the EU. Any action under this work programme shall respect and shall be implemented in line with the rights and principles enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
Priority One - EU: values, rights and opportunities for Citizens
In 2013 further efforts should be put into raising awareness, reflection and debate on the relevance and implications of EU policies on citizens' daily lives and in removing the remaining obstacles that EU citizens still face. The Europe for Citizens Programme is an important tool in this respect and can make a valuable contribution to increase awareness, understanding and enjoyment of the values, rights and opportunities created by the EU as well as to foster reflection on the cost of non-Europe and to support the preservation of the European memory.
Priority Two – Citizens participation in the democratic life of the EU
Citizens' engagement with issues which constitute the European Union's political priorities is a key element of civic participation. Citizens' engagement and participation is especially important in an economically challenging context and in view of the upcoming European parliament elections. The Europe for Citizens Programme represents a valuable tool for encouraging citizens to share their views on the political programme and concrete actions proposed by the European Institutions and to influence what the agenda should comprise (agenda setting) and how the agenda should be taken forward. Particular attention should be given to citizens' perspectives on the conditions that should be put in place to enable them to further influence and participate in the development of a sustainable and inclusive economy as well to their ideas on ways to improve social cohesion. Civil society should also be invited to further contribute to developing a European Area for Freedom, Security and Justice.
Projects shall facilitate the exchange of views with and presentation of results to the appropriate decision-makers on ongoing European policies and their impact on local situations as well as on local issues with a European dimension.
Priority One – Citizens and the EU: values, democratic life and institutional issues
The active involvement of citizens in dialogue and reflection on the EU, its policy objectives and its values are crucial in fostering a sense of ownership and of European identity amongst citizens. The Europe for Citizens Programme is an important tool in this respect and can make a valuable contribution to increase awareness, understanding and enjoyment of the values and principles enshrined in the EU Treaties.
The Treaty also puts the role of the EU in the world on a new footing and introduces important changes in the functioning of the EU institutions, inter-institutional relations and interaction between the European institutions, national parliaments and citizens. The Europe for Citizens Programme represents an important means of empowering citizens to play a full part in the democratic life of the EU. Fostering participation through volunteering in particular, promoting equal opportunities for all, intercultural dialogue and contributing to an inclusive society are issues of fundamental importance to active citizenship, including as regards participation in political life.
Priority Two - Citizens' interests and EU policies
Citizens' engagement with issues which constitute the European Union's political priorities is a key element of civic participation. The Europe for Citizens Programme represents a valuable tool for raising awareness amongst citizens and encouraging them to share their views on the political programme and concrete actions proposed by the European Institutions and to influence what the agenda should comprise (agenda setting) and how the agenda should be taken forward. Particular attention should be given to the perspective of citizens and organised civil society on the skills needed to contribute to and benefit from a knowledge-based and sustainable economy and on the ways to ensure it goes hand in hand with social cohesion.
In 2012 further efforts should then be put into raising awareness, reflection and debate on the relevance and implications of EU policies on citizens' daily lives and in removing the remaining obstacles that EU citizens still face. Topics under debate should also link to the issues in the European agenda, including economic governance, young people's role in the labour market and society, climate change, sustainable energy, flexicurity, transport, innovation and other flagship initiatives and objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. Projects shall facilitate the exchange of views with and presentation of results to the appropriate decision-makers on ongoing European policies and their impact on local situations as well as on local issues with an European dimension. A focus should also be on projects which are related to the objectives of the European Year of Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity.
Priorities of the programme for 2009 :