In its last mini-plenary sitting in Brussels on 2 March, the European Parliament adopted its position on the Europe for Citizens Programme, by voting in favour of the report prepared by ALDE MEP of the CULT committee Maria Teresa Barbat, with 470 votes in favour, 132 against and 37 abstentions
The adopted report, which follows a series of consultations with civil society organisations and programme beneficiaries in which ECAS actively participated, acknowledges the high impact and quality of the projects funded by this programme and calls for a substantial increase in its funding allocation in order to improve its current low success rate and ensure that more high quality projects can be funded. Concretely, the report calls on the Commission, the Council and Member States to consider a financial envelope of EUR 500 million under the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework, which would only represent EUR 1 per citizen, up from the current EUR 185 million .
The report further highlights the potential synergies between this Programme and other EU actions or initiatives enabling citizens to participate in EU policy-making, particularly the ECI, and calls for a consistent communication strategy to bring all the Commission’s programmes devoted to EU citizenship and citizens’ participation under one single umbrella, while ensuring that this does not result in less funding overall. The report further recommends the creation of an online platform for organisations working in the field of citizenship and who are beneficiaries of this programme, in order to pool good practices, reinforce capacities and enhance the projects’ visibility.
Finally, the Parliament’s report underlines the importance of maintaining the operating grants provided under this Programme to organisations implementing activities targeting the programme priorities. This is supported by several arguments, notably the independence that these funding schemes offer to their beneficiaries and the possibility of long-term planning to realise vision-orientated activities and to develop expertise.
ECAS’ position and advocacy work
The Europe for Citizens Programme is a unique EU programme supporting the values and benefits of EU citizenship and enabling citizens to have their voices heard on EU policies, by helping to bridge the gap between citizens and EU institutions through the projects it funds. In spite of its high potential, especially in times of growing Euroscepticism and threats constantly looming over the European project, it is severely hampered by its symbolic financial allocation compared to other EU funding programmes. ECAS was actively involved in consultations with MEP Teresa Barbat, who prepared the position of the European Parliament on this Programme, and participated in a stakeholder meeting with beneficiaries organised by Deloitte to contribute to an external evaluation for the Commission. ECAS has also contributed to the ongoing EU public consultation on this programme. Our position paper can be accessed here.