The following European organisations are currently involved in town twinning initiatives:
The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) is the European equivalent of the Local Government Association. It has long been a staunch advocate of twinning. The LGIB represents UK local authorities on the CEMR's Europe-wide Twinning Network, made up of representatives of the national local authority associations. The network meets to discuss aspects of twinning, such as trends in activities and European Commission grant criteria. Its main purpose is to develop a united voice on behalf of European twinning.
Further information about the network is available online at: www.ccre.org
Most Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) appreciate the important role of twinning in European integration and place significance on people to people contact in strengthening the EU. In recent years, MEPs have demonstrated their support by reversing European Commission plans to reduce the twinning budget.
MEPs should be invited to take part in events, providing an expert view on a particular subject. Developing links with MEPs can help raise interest in overseas partnerships and sustain links. For example, organising a programme of visits by a MEP to schools and colleges, community groups and business group meetings can generate interest in twinning activities.
Additionally, MEPs are good networkers, as they meet counterparts from other countries on a regular basis. Their contacts can help generate interest in a partnership or twinning link.
In addition to the financial backing provided by the European Commission, which is covered in the next chapter, the Commission also awards Golden Stars for outstanding twinning projects.
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe offers an award system to local and regional authorities for actively promoting the European ideal through twinning links, exchange visits or events.
There are four separate ascending awards: the first step is the European Diploma with 30 awards each year, the second is the Flag of Honour and the third is the Plaque of Honour. The highest award is the Europe Prize which recognises what it calls 'outstanding efforts to promote European unity'.
Applications may be made by representatives of local or regional authorities in any of the Council of Europe's 44 Member States by 31 December each year, and full details are available from:
The Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel 00 33 3 88 41 21 08