The future

There are around 17,000 twinning links across Europe, which means that many more towns are involved (many have more than one twinning partner, so the exact total is hard to calculate precisely).

Though many more Europeans travel abroad nowadays for holidays or short business trips, and despite satellite TV and the internet, twinning remains the best way for Europeans to meet face to face, to share information and views on their daily lives and to benefit from each other’s experience on issues ranging from education to social inclusion, culture or business.

Twinning partnerships nowadays may lead to specific projects on subjects like water management, economic development or improving social services.   There has also been an increase in twinnings between several partners, each from a different European country.  In these and other ways, the development of European partnerships enables citizens and municipalities to share expertise and experience.

Today, twinning helps to create a sense of a common European identity – something that can never be imposed from above.  Moreover, getting citizens together to discuss and tackle difficult subjects in a friendly atmosphere is also an expression of a very active European citizenship.

But twinning also still serves the original purpose of promoting peace and understanding between peoples and communities.  For the countries of south-east Europe (the Balkans), twinning is a very important way of bringing people together, after the terrible regional wars of the 1990s, across Europe’s frontiers, and also to share expertise and experience as the region’s countries move forward and develop.

And in our age of globalisation – with its problems and opportunities - twinning is also playing a more significant role in bringing people and communities together in the wider world.  The European Union has important neighbours to its south and east, including the Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and other countries around the Mediterranean and of the Middle East.

Twinning can really help to develop a much stronger dialogue and understanding between the peoples of Europe and of all these countries.  And not least, twinning can be an excellent way of promoting international development, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.