November 11, 1918: European citizens celebrate the end of a war that should have been the last one. It was only when a second devastating war ended that they decided to build for peace through the creation of the European Union. One hundred years later, how do EU Member States commemorate this dark period of their history and how do they pay tribute to the soldiers who died for peace? Today, the European Union commemorates the centenary and the war throughout funding programmes among others. Thus, Tthe celebration of this centenary gives us the chance to talk about a programme often overlooked unknown programme developed by the European Union called: Europe for citizens. This programme both supports, supporting both European remembrance and Democratic engagement and civic participation. So, how does this programme work, what does it finance and how does it contribute to promote European shared history and values?
Europe for citizens
Europe for citizens is a programme whose main objectives are to encourage and facilitate citizens’ wider involvement in the European Union as well as to ensure a broader understanding of the history of the European Union and its origins in the aftermath of two world wars. Following in the footstep of the Lisbon Treaty that introduced a new whole dimension of participatory democracy, this programme finances schemes and activities in which citizens can participate. With a budget of 187, 718, 000 euro for the period 2014-2020 this Programme is divided into two strands: European remembrance and Democratic engagement and civic participation.
Strand 1 – European Remembrance
This measure finances projects that reflect on the causes and consequences of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in Europe’s modern history and commemorate the victims of their crimes. It finances actions that encourage tolerance, mutual understanding, intercultural dialogue and reconciliation as a means of moving beyond the past and building the future, in particular with a view to reaching the younger generation.
Strand 2 – Democratic engagement and civic participation
Measure Town Twinning
This measure finances projects that aim at gathering a various range of cities around pluriannual priorities. Inviting citizens to debate on concrete issues from the European political agenda, this measure is seeking to promote civic participation in the Union policy-making process and develop opportunities for societal engagement and volunteering at Union level.
Measure Networks of Towns
This measure attempts to bind municipalities so as to develop thematic and long-lasting cooperation between towns. These networks are expected to mobilise citizens across the European Union and to serve as a basis for future initiatives and actions between the towns involved on issues of common interest.
Measure Civil Society Projects
This measure aims at supporting projects promoted by transnational partnerships and networks directly involving citizens. Those projects gather citizens from different horizons and encourage them to participate in activities directly linked to Union policies so as to give them an opportunity to actively participate in the Union policy-making process.
Strand 2 is made of three measures including Measure Town Twinning (a measure funding projects that aim at gathering a various range of cities around pluriannual priorities and inviting citizens to debate on concrete issues from the European political agenda), Measure Networks of Towns (a measure attempting to bind municipalities so as to develop thematic and long-lasting cooperation between towns), and Measure Civil Society Projects, a measure supporting projects promoted by transnational partnerships and networks directly involving citizens and encouraging them to participate in activities directly linked to Union policies.
One hundred years later, the fights of veterans are still part of European memory. These soldiers fought for peace and it is through democracy that this peace is maintained. Programmes developed by the European Commission such as Europe for Citizens, contribute to the peacekeeping by allowing citizens to truly participate in the functioning and memory of Europe.