Priority themes of the "Europe for Citizens" Programme:
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.
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.
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.
Impact of EU policies in societiesE
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.
Priorities of the Programme for 2013
The Programme's priorities for the year 2013 shall focus on contributing to the objectives set out for the European Year of Citizens by:
- Raising awareness on the values and rights of Union citizens and on the opportunities provided by the EU;
- Enhancing citizen's participation in the democratic life of the EU.
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.