A brief by Tamara Guirao, CAAC coordinator
Between 2007-2013, the program “Europe for Citizens» has contributed to the promotion of active European citizenship. Thus, EU supports each year different types of actions, grouped into four main areas: “Active citizens for Europe ‘(town-twinning and citizens’ projects and support measures), “Active civil society in Europe “(structural support for European research organizations, public policy think tanks, structural support to civil society organizations at European level and support for projects initiated by civil society organizations), “Together for Europe” (high visibility events, such as commemorations, awards, artistic events, European-wide conferences, etc.., and studies, surveys and opinion polls and information and dissemination tools) and “Active European Remembrance“.
Atlantic Arc Cities have been very active in the Programme, in various strands, for instance:
In the measure 1.1 Town Twinning and during the European Year for Volunteers 2011 Aviles hosted the Atlantic Citizens Meeting with the citizens of Saint-Nazaire, a city with which it was twinned in 2003. The get-together, promoted by the city of Aviles’ Town Council Department for Citizen Participation and the Coordinator for European Programmes, includes the active participation of Aviles’ associations, with a total of 22 entities that make up the organisation together with the school workshop COMUNIKA. The Saint-Nazaire delegation was made up of 30 people, including Town Hall representatives and technicians, members of neighbourhood councils, and different members of associations and federations. The aim of the Meeting was to exchange experiences regarding citizenship participation; promote the direct knowledge of the reality of both cities and propose initiatives to be carried within the framework of the European Year for Volunteers. These meetings repeated in 2012 and 2013 (the tenth anniversary of the twinning.) Today they carry out toghether CAPEA, a project that wishes to build on these results, funded by Pays de la Loire.
In the measure 1.2 Networking among Twinned Towns, the twinned towns of Gijon and Niort (AIRE 198) together with Cardiff and Guimaraes (Vale do Ave) created an initiative on TOwn Networking Through the Atlantic, better known as TONETA. From 2011 till 2013, TONETA aimed to reinforce the networking of cities by improving, promoting and fomenting the different networks which work in the Atlantic area. TONETA (Town Networking through the Atlantic) project fostered the synergies created by twinning and joint membership of networks of the cities located in the Atlantic Arc. Networking was the fundamental core of the action strategy, that was rooted on several thematic dimensions as: youth participation in city policy-making, sustainable development and territorial cohesion.
In the measure 2.3, coordinated by the French Association “Graine d’Europe”, the Atlantic Cities of Nantes, Laval, Le Mans, Angers, La Roche-sur-Yon, and Caen joined other European Cities and Organisations: Xena (Padua), Mioritics (Sibiu), and Polites (Szczecin) in a project called “My European City”. As mentioned in the project’s website: “the concept came about as the response to a feeling that we are too distanced from our European citizenship. The purpose of the project was to make European citizens more aware of the presence of Europe in their daily lives. Europe can be found in our streets, our buildings, in the history of our cities and via the companies in our local area.”
Atlantic Arc Cities wish that the future programme 2014-2020 continues to be open to cities and their stakeholders, taking into account the key role played by local authorities in European construction.