The European Citizenship Awards are a joint initiative between Volonteurope and European Civic Forum, two European networks which promote active citizenship and recognition of the importance of social justice to the cohesion of communities across Europe. The Awards celebrate the democratic and civic engagement of individuals, organisations, citizens’ groups, media platforms and social enterprises, recognising innovative initiatives and contributions which give real substance to European values, create ownership of public space and improve the lives of our communities in terms of democracy, social justice and universal access to rights.
The joint initiative comes at a time when the European project is facing many challenges. Through the European Citizenship Awards 2016, the two networks will recognise and give visibility to outstanding initiatives and civil society actors who put European democratic citizenship into practice and have a real, positive impact on the lives of their communities – be it at the local, regional, national or European level.
The importance of ownership and belonging are at the heart of European Civic Forum and Volonteurope’s understanding of European citizenship. This understanding, based up the Council of Europe’s vision:
- Includes all the aspects of living in a democratic society, such as education, culture, sustainable development, fight against discrimination, integration of minorities, participation of disabled people, gender equality and especially the equal representation of women and men in decision-making processes; and
- Guarantees every citizen and civil society representative – including the most underprivileged groups – the right to take part in the democratic life and the shaping of public policies at all levels.
To this effect, the Awards are targetting nominees from all current member states of the Council of Europe, in the following four categories:
- Campaign of the Year: rewarding awareness-raising or advocacy campaigns organised by both informal and formal groups of citizens, including NGOs, with a real and proven impact on community life or public action, and a high potential for driving transformative change;
- Social Enterprise of the Year: rewarding businesses or not-for-profits founded on the basis of social goals, which are written into the enterprise’s vision and mission, the pursuit of which brings in positive social change in communities;
- Volunteer of the Year: rewarding individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to democratic life and to the development of a community or cause, be it through a volunteering role in an NGO or in another form of an organisation or community association (including informal groups); and
- Media Initiative of the Year: rewarding professional media and media-based collaborative initiatives which give citizens effective tools to engage and bring about positive change in their communities; successful media initiatives will have used different tools for engagement and enhanced citizens’ participation, fostered an informed citizenry and enabled the development of a common civic space.