Europe for citizens open calls for Town twinning and Networks of towns

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The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the European Commission has announced new deadlines for application in the Europe for citizens programme. The deadline for both open calls is on 1st of September 2015 and the programme is open for municipalities and non-governmental organisations that want to implement international projects in different topics.

The aim of this programme is to contribute to citizens’ understanding of the EU, its history and diversity and to foster European citizenship and improve conditions for civic and democratic participation at EU level.

The programme offers funding support in two areas: European Remembrance and Democratic engagement and civic participation. The open calls refer to the second priority and the following two activities will be supported:

1) Town twinning: Projects will bring together citizens from twinned towns to debate issues from the European political agenda. They will develop opportunities for societal engagement and volunteering at EU level.

  • Project duration: maximum 21 days
  • Grant amount: maximum €25 000 per project

2) Networks of towns: Towns are encouraged to cooperate with other towns on a long‑term basis to explore particular topics or themes, share resources or interests, gain influence or face common challenges.

  • Project duration: maximum 24 months per project & maximum 21 days per event
  • Grant amount: between €10 000 & €150 000.

The European Development Agency helps candidate partners with the application procedures to successfully fund their projects. Our municipality partner network candidates includes:

Please contact us if you are looking for Czech partners!


EU Commission plans to select the new European Capital of Innovation 2016


After the success of the first edition in 2014, the European Commission has launched seeks the European Capital of Innovation for 2016, to celebrate the European city which is building the best “innovation ecosystem”- connecting citizens, public organizations, academia, and business. The award is addressed to cities over 100.000 inhabitants from EU Member States and Associated Countries to Horizon 2020, the European research and innovation programme.

The winner of the “European Capital of Innovation Award 2016” will be selected among the cities’ actual achievements and the potential intended scaling up activities against the following award criteria:

  1. Innovative
  2. Inspiring
  3. Integrated
  4. Interactive
  5. Impactful

It will aim to provide European level recognition to those cities that make the most to promote innovation within their communities and thereby improve the quality of their citizens’ lives. It will address the challenge of fostering innovation through actions at city level, by acknowledging innovative solutions to build up an innovation ecosystem and ideas to further expand and scale up these initiatives, thereby leveraging and inducing further systemic innovation in cities.

The deadline for submission of applications 18 November 2015 at 17:00 (Brussels time) and applications are submitted through the Participant Portal.


EU Regional Policy: cross-border cooperation in Czech Republic

European Cross-Border cooperation, known as Interreg A, supports cooperation between regions from at least two different Member States lying directly on the borders or adjacent to them. It aims to tackle common challenges identified jointly in the border regions and to exploit the untapped growth potential in border areas, while enhancing the cooperation process for the purposes of the overall harmonious development of the Union. This article aims to framework the Czech cross-border cooperation programmes that have been lately approved.


The European Commission has adopted a new cross-border programme for the Czech Republic and Poland on September 23rd 2015.  This “Interreg” programme covers eight regions on both sides of the border and is worth more than €266 million, with a contribution from the European Regional Development Fund of €226 million.  The programme covers different issues:

  • The programme puts particular focus on indirect support for employment by tapping into the potential of the tourism sector.
  • Despite the fact that tourism constitutes an opportunity for economic development in this mountain area, at present this potential is not exploited enough, mainly due to poor transport infrastructure.
  • The programme includes measures aimed at improving the skills of youngsters and eliminating administrative barriers, which hamper their entry into the common labour market, especially regarding the mutual recognition of qualifications. The regions are particularly struggling with a high unemployment rate among young people. The lack of appropriate skills, including linguistic ones, constitutes an obstacle to exploring opportunities linked to a border location.
  • The programme will address the issue of risk prevention. An integrated risk management system is envisaged, covering legal, technical, and procedural aspects.

European Commission has also invested more than €90 million to tackle the main cross-border challenges in the Czech-Slovak regions. A key focus will be on cross-border initiatives to boost:

  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) innovation by increasing cooperation SMEs.
  • Strengthen research and promote cooperation between and research institutes and SMEs.
  • Protect the environment promoting the sustainable use of the regions’ natural and cultural heritage.

With national funding included the budget of the programme amounts to more than €106 million.

The Czech – Saxony programme cross-border programme was also approved by European Commission lately. The total budget of the programme is EUR 255  million, of which EUR 191.3  million will be provided by the EU Structural FundsThis programme revolves around five  priorities and technical assistance measures. Its overall objective is to increase competitiveness and improve living conditions in the border area of Saxony and the Czech Republic.

  • Economic development and co-operation between businesses
  • Infrastructures
  • Environmental and spatial development of the area 
  • Human resources and networks
  • Special support for border regions 
  • Technical assistance

Interreg V-A – Germany/Bavaria-Czech Republic Cooperation programme also addresses the most important cross-border challenges which are linked to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy in the Bavarian-Czech border region. The programme will focus on the following four priorities:

  1. Strengthen the capacities in research, technological development and innovation
  2. Conserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency
  3. Investment in education
  4. Sustainable networks and institutional co-operation

The European Commission has adopted too the new cross-border cooperation programme between Austria and the Czech Republic. The programme is worth more than €97 million from EU Regional funds. With national “co-financing” included, it will be worth more than €115 million in investments to tackle the most important cross border obstacles confronting the regions. The programme’s main focus is on

  1. Environment, conservation, promotion and development of natural and cultural heritage. It will also support projects which aim to protect biodiversity and to test and develop new environmental technologies. Among the results: Better developed and more attractive destinations for sustainable tourism, better protected habitats, increase in eco-innovation applications.
  2. Human resource development,education and qualification activities increasing human resource potential for local SME.
  3. Strengthening research, technological development and innovation
  4. Sustainable networks and institutional cooperation, for better coordination of public services, increased intercultural understanding.

Together with bilateral cooperation policies, Czech Republic is member of Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE programmea European Union cohesion policy programme, managed by the City of Vienna. Since 2007 the programme has encouraged transnational cooperation among cities and regions of eight central European countries: Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Croatia now joins the programme as the ninth Member State.


The main investment priorities are:

  • Cooperating on innovation to make central Europe more competitive: projects will aim at more effective investment in research, innovation and education and will also address regional disparities in knowledge and education.
  • Cooperating on low-carbon strategies in central Europe: projects to increase the use of renewable energies and improving energy efficiency while exploiting opportunity for new jobs in the low-carbon sector.
  • Cooperating on natural and cultural resources for sustainable growth in central Europe: projects to help protect and manage natural and cultural heritage, increasingly vulnerable to environmental and economic pressures
  • Cooperating on transport to better connect central Europe: projects will aim at improving connections of regions and cities to European transport networks and strengthening multi-modal environmentally friendly passenger and freight transport.

Source: InfoRegio

Article by Nora Lázaro Aguirre

Get ready for the next European Cooperation Day


Why a European Cooperation Day? In 2011, several Interreg programmes saw the need to develop a joint communication activity to communicate the outcomes of Interreg to a wider audience. INTERACT offered to create a pilot action on joint Interreg communication in 2012 and all programmes were invited to join. This first European Cooperation Day campaign brought together 70 cooperation programmes and resulted in 281 events across 36 countries in Europe. Since then, the campaign has been going strong. This will be the 4th consecutive European Cooperation Day campaign. This year is also a special occasion as we celebrate the 25 year anniversary of Interreg! Under the motto “Sharing borders, growing closer”, hundreds of local events will be held across Europe in the week leading up to 21 September, reaching out to thousands of people. European Cooperation Day is coordinated by the INTERACT Programme with the support of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions.

Highlights from the past European Cooperation Day campaigns include a swimming marathon between Greece and Albania; a classical concert in a cross-border cave between Hungary and Slovakia; a project bus tour for journalists from Latvia and Estonia; film festivals on European cooperation in Spain and Finland; a cross-border football match between Finland and Russia; graffiti art between France and Spain and a race between a Lithuanian horse, a Belarusian tractor, and a Latvian minivan.

To be part of European Cooperation Day 2015, here are some ways you can participate:

  • Organise a local event celebrating the achievements and results of cooperation in Europe. You can find some tips by clicking here.
  • Become a partner of one of the local events to be organised by programmes in your area
  • Disseminate information on the events through your social media, website or other communication tools
  • Engage in the campaign through the mobile application and receive information on when and where events will be taking place
  • Attend one of the local events in your area
  • Join the celebration of Interreg’s 25 year anniversary on 15-16 September in Luxembourg.

A song also has been especially created to celebrate 25 years of Interreg, celebrating the benefits of working together across borders. This tailor-made song has beenused for the promotional video of European Cooperation Day 2015. Enjoy!


European cooperation in the field of education and training


Each EU country is responsible for its own education and training systems, so EU policy is designed to support national action and help address common challenges.

The European programme for Education and Training, 2014-2020 – ET2020 is the key European-level framework that helps member states to modernise their education and training systems, thus contributing to the overall political priorities set under the Europe 2020 strategy. It provides common strategic objectives for Member States, including a set of principles for achieving these objectives, as well as common working methods with priority areas for each periodic work cycle. ET2020 builds on its predecessor, the Education and Training 2010 – ET 2010 work programme.

In order to ensure the successful implementation of ET 2020, the European Union funds activities that promote learning and education at all levels and for all age groups. Through the strategic framework for education and training, EU countries have identified four common objectives to address these challenges by 2020:

  • Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality

For education and training systems which are more responsive to change and more open to the wider world. In particular, work is needed to ensure the development of national qualifications frameworks based on relevant learning outcomes and their link to the European Qualifications Framework.

  • Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training

High quality education to ensure the acquisition of key competences by everyone on a sustainable basis. High quality teaching, to provide adequate initial teacher education, continuous professional development for teachers and trainers, and to make teaching an attractive career-choice. It is also important to improve the governance and leadership of education and training institutions, and to develop effective quality assurance systems.

  • Promoting equity, social cohesion, and active citizenship

Education and training systems should aim to ensure that all learners complete their education, including, where appropriate, through second-chance education and the provision of more personalised learning. Education should promote intercultural competences, democratic values and respect for fundamental rights.

  • Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training

Creativity constitutes a prime source of innovation, which in turn is acknowledged as one of the key drivers of sustainable economic development. Broader learning communities, involving representatives of civil society and other stakeholders, should be promoted with a view to creating a climate conducive to creativity and better reconciling professional and social needs, as well as individual well-being.

European Development Agency contributes to this effort by sharing best practices, gathering and dissemination of information, advising and supporting our clients and networking.

Source : Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)

Article by Nora Lázaro

Interreg Europe adopted by the European Comission!


The new interregional cooperation programme – Interreg Europe – has been officially approved by the European Commission on 11th June 2015 in Brussels. The Interreg Europe programme financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims to improve the implementation of regional development policies and programmes, in particular programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs and European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes. There are four great topics:

  • Research and Innovation
  • Competitiveness of SMEs
  • Low Carbon economy
  • Environment and resource efficiency

By co-financing projects and four thematic platforms it allows regional and local public authorities and other players of regional relevance across Europe to exchange practices and ideas on the way public policies work, and thereby find solutions to improve their strategies for their own citizens.

The programme is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The total budget for the programme is EUR 359 million. There are 30 Countries are participating in the programme: 28 EU Member States plus Switzerland and Norway.

The Interreg Europe is continuation of INTERREG IVC (2007-2013). EU support for interregional cooperation has existed for around 20 years. Several features have been introduced in the new programming period to ensure that EU funds are used more effectively:

  1. Greater emphasis on improving programmes that are part of the European Union’s Cohesion policy
  2. Capturing the project results: the more focused the topics, the greater the chances of producing effective results
  3. Public administrations are the primary target group of Interreg Europe
  4. Stakeholder group per participating region will have to be established

We recomend to read the INTERREG_EUROPE_leaflet, where you can easily  find all information about the programme.

Horizon 2020 launches the Projects & Results Service


Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe2020 flagshipinitiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness. Horizon 2020 is open to everyone, with a simple structure that reduces red tape and time so participants can focus on what is really important. This approach makes sure new projects get off the ground quickly – and achieve results faster.

It has just lunched the Projects & Results Service for information on EU-funded research projects and project results. There, you can search and access all the European Commission’s information in the lifecycle of each project: the grant details, funding and participants, the projects’ own Report Summaries, the latest multilingual Results in Brief and links to specific publications and other documents.

A great tool for project management and inspiration!

#Be Active, a call to action to get Europeans moving!


Engagement in sport and physical activity is at an all-time low: 59% of Europeans never or seldom exercise or play sport (Eurobarometer). Participation in sport and physical activity is stagnating, and in some EU Member States, even declining. It’s not just people’s health and well-being that suffers; it’s our society and economy as a whole. Increased spending on health care, a loss of productivity in the workplace and reduced employability are just a few of the negative knock-on effects.

The #Be Active! European Week of Sport, 7-13 September 2015, aims to promote sport and physicalactivity across Europe. The Week is for everyone, regardless of age, background or fitness level. With a focus on grassroots initiatives, it will inspire Europeans to #BeActive on a regular basis and create opportunities in peoples’ everyday lives to exercise more. The Week is structured around four Focus Days:

  • Education environment
  • Workplace
  • Outdoors
  • Sport Clubs and Fitness Centres.

The European Week of Sport as a whole is composed of projects co-financed by the European Commission, as well as events organised by the Week’s European partners, national coordinators, ministries, civil society organisations, local authorities and the private sector. Because we all have a role to play in creating a culture that values sport and physical activity, any individual or organisation can also develop and register an event with the European Week of Sport, There are plenty of projects across Europe putting their own ideas into action.  Here you will find a map of the already submitted activities ans some tips to inspire you to get involved.

A #BeActive society is a healthy, happy and inclusive one.


Article by Nora Lázaro

Europe for Citizens – EU grants


The Europe for Citizens programme for the period 2014-2020 funds European remembrance and democratic engagement and civic participation projecs. It aims

  • To contribute to citizens’ understanding of the EU, its history and diversity
  • To foster European citizenship and to improve conditions for civic and democratic participation at EU level
  • To raise awareness of remembrance, common history and values
  • To encourage democratic participation of citizens at EU level, by developing citizens’ understanding of the EU policy making-process and, by promoting opportunities for societal and intercultural engagement and volunteering at EU level

It has the status of a call for proposals and the program has just announced the projects selected to be funded. Among the public bodies or non-profit organisations that have applied, 33 projects have achieved the European Remembrance funding, all of them focus on the World War II and the associated rise of intolerance that enabled crimes against humanity and the consequences of World War II for the post-war architecture of Europe.

Regarding the Democratic engagement and civic participation, selected projects, Hungarian municipalities have successfully get funding for Town Twinning projects, getting 30 out of the 144 total grants, followed by Slovakia (21 projects granted), Romania (13) and Italy (11), among others. Italy seems to be the most successful EU country though regarding the grant selection for Networks of towns projects, followed by close by Hungary.

All these initiatives will contribute to reinforce the cooperation among European countries.

The INTERREG IVC programme shows its results


INTERREG IVC programme just came to an end. It has been a laboratory of ideas that contributed considerably to EU territorial cohesion. It stimulated European regions to share their knowledge and solutions with each other and improve the effectiveness of regional policies and instruments.

INTERREG IVC involved 29 countries which shared solutions to generate sustainable economic growth and create jobs more easily and effectively together. Its approach was specifically designed to help regions progress, step by step, and achieve their ultimate goal. Whatever applicants needed – information, constructive feedback, training, exchange of ideas or promotional resources – INTERREG IVC was capable of providing the right support at the right time.In order to channel efforts for the best results, the programme focused on improving regional and local policies in two areas:
– Innovation and the knowledge economy
– Environment and risk prevention

The selection procedure was strict: only 1 in 5 project applications received funding and just 2,295 organisations out of 14,000 applicants were selected to take part in cooperation projects. The Institute for Regional Development successfully  joined the program.

INTERREG has just presented its interregional cooperation’s results from 2007-2014 online report. This attractive report gives you a summary of the programme’s actions in seven chapters. Click on ‘Learn more’ in each chapter for additional details and examples of successful projects, or use the navigation menu to go directly to the section that interests you most.

This program may have come to an end, but interregional cooperation continues! Next calls will be published under the INTERREG EUROPE programme