A Union that supports citizen involvement

Article written by Rebecca Zammit – Executive, MEUSAC
Published in The Malta Independent – 27.07.2020

As European citizens, it is of great importance that we actively take part in the discussions that help shape the EU and what it stands for. To this end, the funding programme, ‘Europe for Citizens’ provides opportunities for Europe’s 500 million inhabitants to play a greater part in its development.

The Europe for Citizens Programme
Europe is currently facing numerous challenges on many fronts, from sustainable economic growth, to security and climate change. It is therefore more important than ever before that European citizens are engaged and take a leading role in the construction of the EU’s policies going forward. In this context, the Europe for Citizens Programme funds citizen-lead activities and projects that promote Europe’s shared history and values, and that foster participation in the Union’s policy-making.

The programme is implemented through two strands. The first one supports European remembrance activities that raise awareness of the EU’s common history and values. The second strand supports activities by civil society and local authorities that lead to concrete democratic engagement and civic participation. It also covers initiatives that develop opportunities for intercultural solidarity, mutual understanding, societal engagement and volunteering at Union level. This second strand is implemented through the below three Measures:

Town Twinning
This Measure allows localities in Malta and Gozo to partner up with other European towns or villages to organise an event where citizens can meet to debate on concrete issues related to Europe’s priorities. This allows localities to share ideas and good practices, practice solidarity, and learn about each other’s cultures.

MEUSAC has assisted various Maltese and Gozitan local councils to apply for Town Twinning projects. Marsascala Local Council applied for a town twinning project in 2018 and successfully carried out a town-twinning activity here in Malta. Through this project, local participants were involved in a discussion about the future of Europe and Euroscepticism together with participants from Italy, Germany, Poland and The Netherlands. Over four days, citizens participated in a number of debates, discussions, workshops and presentations, aiming to identify the role that local communities have in the future of the European project, find common solutions to counter the rise of Euroscepticism, and to develop methods for the integration of foreign communities into the local one.

Networks of Towns
This Measure is similar to that of Town-Twinning with a long-term perspective. Whereas Town-Twinning consists of a one-off activity, Networks of Towns allow the participating organisations to create a strong, long-lasting thematic link, making their cooperation more sustainable. Networks of Towns involve at least four municipalities from four different countries, leading to at least four events addressing the subject(s) of common interest that are to be addressed in the context of the Programme’s objectives.

In 2016 MEUSAC assisted the Mellieħa Local Council to apply for a Networks of Towns project. This Local Council paired up with 10 other municipalities from across the EU, from six different European countries, to implement Networks of Towns project. All these municipalities are small rural localities and thus face common problems such as resource constraints and markets that are vulnerable to competition from the European market. The project brought citizens together over five activities to discuss the obstacles and threats faced in their local markets, while seeking solutions within the context of opportunities provided by the EU.

Civil Society Projects
This Measure supports projects by civil society organisations in activities directly linked to Union policies, to give them an opportunity to participate in the Union’s policy-making process. Through such projects, participants can reflect and debate on European-related issues and propose practical solutions at EU level.

In addition, a Civil Society Project must include at least two of the following types of activities: promotion of societal engagement and solidarity; gathering of opinions, and; volunteering. Eligible entities for this measure are non-profit organisations, including civil society organisations, educational, cultural or research institutions. Other organisations involved in the project can also be public local/regional authorities.

The upcoming deadline for applications under all three mentioned Measures is September 1, 2020.

MEUSAC’s assistance
MEUSAC assists non-governmental organisations, local councils, government entities, and schools to apply for EU funds. MEUSAC offers a free of charge and personalised service to these entities by providing information on available funding opportunities, helping entities to develop a project, and assists them in the application process.

If you are interested in submitting a project proposal under the Europe for Citizens programme or any other funding programme, kindly contact MEUSAC on info.meusac@gov.mt or 2200 3300.

« Back