The European Union recognizes that twinning is a very important means to help people understand the aims of the EU, to develop a stronger sense of European identity, and to bring the EU closer to its citizens.
In 1989, on the initiative of the European Parliament, a European twinning programme was launched for the first time, and subsequent twinning programmes have provided an important source of funding for twinning.
For the period 2007- 2013 this support is provided under the programme “Europe for Citizens”, which aims to support a broad range of activities and organisations in the pursuit of “active European citizenship.” Among the activities covered by the programme, twinning – in budgetary terms – is the main measure supported: 11 to 14 million € per year.
The European Commission, which oversees the programme, organises consultation meetings with the CEMR twinning network, to discuss how the twinning grant process is going, and to receive feedback on their proposals for the future.
The programme guide and the Commission website provide all the practical information on how to receive financial support. The programme is open to the 27 EU member States, but also, with certain conditions, to members of the European Free Trade Association (including Iceland, and Norway), to EU “candidate countries” and to the countries of the western Balkans.
The practical implementation of the EU twinning and citizenship programme – e.g. selection of successful proposals, grant payments etc., is carried out by a specialist Executive Agency. Its website includes a useful set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and their answers.
Each year, the European Commission also organises the annual Golden Stars award for high quality twinning partnerships and other trans-national initiatives for citizenship.