The European Union is primarily a union of people and values – with a unique system of democracy that complements and interacts with national, regional and local democratic systems of all Member States, as well as working directly with citizens and civil society. All those with a stake in the future of Europe have a role to play in explaining what it means to be part of this Union and in spelling out the benefits or consequences of its policies and choices.
Source: The European Commission's contribution to the informal EU27 leaders' meeting in Sibiu (Romania) on 9 May 2019, page 40.
Based on this principle, the European Parliament initiated the project “Building Europe with Local Councillors.” It is aimed at building an EU network of locally elected representatives from across the Member States. Their aim will be to communicate the EU on the ground.
The European Commission Directorate-General for Communication is in charge of the implementation of the project under the 2021 Work Programme. The Commission implements the project in close cooperation with the European Committee of the Regions.
In order to establish the network, the Commission is launching a call for applications for local authorities (municipality, province, department or region) wishing to become partners of the Commission in communicating the EU on the ground by appointing a locally elected representative as member of the “Building Europe with Local Councillors” network.
→ partner of the European Commission in communicating Europe on the ground
Locally elected representative appointed by the local authority
→ member of the “Building Europe with Local Councillors” network
Conclusion of the partnership between the local authority and the European Commission
A local authority seeking to conclude a partnership in the context of the “Building Europe with Local Councillors” project should fill out the online application form. The form is accompanied by a signed declaration, expressing interest and commitment to become a partner in communicating Europe on the ground by appointing a locally elected representative. The partnership starts with the acceptance of the application form by the European Commission.
The European Commission communicates such acceptance with a letter sent via email to the partner and sends to the local authority a metal plate acknowledging this strategic alliance.
The European Commission particularly welcomes the appointment of women or members of underrepresented groups as members of the network.
The partnership does not include financial transactions of any kind.
Aim of the partnership
The partnership aims to help and encourage local representatives to present EU policies, actions and initiatives objectively to their constituency and to promote discussion and debate about these policies, actions and initiatives.
Duration of the partnership
The partnership is valid for the entire duration of the network. The duration of the network, established as a pilot project, is currently estimated to run for at least 2 years. Its further prolongation will depend on the results of the project in its initial phase, following an evaluation.
Both the local authority and the European Commission may terminate the partnership with a written notice sent 3 months before the date of termination, or with immediate effect in case of non-compliance by the local authority with the obligations undertaken herein.
Relations with the local authority
The local authority, as partner of the “Building Europe with Local Councillors” network, shall appoint one locally elected councillor as member of the network, and, jointly with the member, sign a declaration in which the local authority makes the following commitments.
- In the event that the member is no longer available to continue within the framework of the network for any reason, the local authority is required to ensure continuity by appointing a new member. The new member must submit immediately a new declaration with a clear reference to the initial application and to the initial letter of acceptance.
- Following a duly justified request by the European Commission, and after having granted the member an opportunity to be heard, the appointment of that member may be terminated if it is found that his or her actions have undermined the overall scope of the network or are manifestly incompatible with the values enshrined by the Union. In this case, a new member will have to be appointed.
Intermediate levels of government, and in particular provinces, regions, metropolitan areas, groupings of local authorities and any public authority that officially commits to providing strategic guidance, financial and technical support to local authorities can apply and be recognised as partner with a coordinating role. Local authorities applying in a coordinator role appoint a contact person – and not a local councillor – to be admitted into the network as an observer, in order to help promote the project among the local authorities. Their role is to provide support. In this case, the local authority should indicate in the application form their role as “coordinator.”
Relations with the appointed locally elected representative
The locally elected representative (member of the “Building Europe with Local Councillors” network) shall sign a declaration in which the member makes the following commitments.
- Engage regularly in discussions and debate with members of their constituency or local media about the general political initiatives and measures conducted by the EU. The overall aim is to encourage citizens to get involved in debates on the future of the EU and other EU-related topics.
- Present EU policies, actions and initiatives objectively, based on accurate and trustworthy information.
- Take part in the day-to-day operations of the network by participating in the online platform, attending seminars and visits offered by the European Commission (depending on availability). Additional duties include taking part in surveys conducted approximately twice a year, and providing feedback on activities undertaken in the context of the network.
The Commission shall provide the following materials and resources to the appointed locally elected representative (member of the “Building Europe with Local Councillors” network).
- Communication materials and a regular information updates to help them engage with citizens on EU issues.
- Depending on availability of resources, access to priority visits of the European Commission Visitors’ Centre in Brussels, physical or digital, organised when possible in their language.
- Access to an interactive platform to foster interaction with other members of the network.
- Information about other EU initiatives dedicated to local councillors and local authorities, including in particular the activities of the Committee of the Regions and its Network of Regional and Local EU Councillors, and opportunities to follow and contribute to their activities.
Complementarity with the European Network of Regional and Local EU Councillors
Membership of the “Building Europe with Local Councillors” network is complementary to participation in national networks of comparable nature where these exist, and in the European Network of Regional and Local EU Councillors set up by the Committee of the Regions. Members of the Committee of the Regions’ European Network of Regional and Local EU Councillors, are encouraged to also join the “Building Europe with Local Councillors” network, and vice versa.
Processing of personal data
Personal data included in or relating to the present call and its implementation, including data related to the provision of the services, shall be processed in conformity with Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and on the free movement of such data. Further information concerning the processing operation shall be found in the privacy statement.
A local authority wishing to become a partner of the European Commission in communicating the EU on the ground should:
- Appoint a locally elected representative as a member of the network.
- Ensure the appointed member signs a declaration that specifies his/her role as member of the network in actively communicating the EU on the ground in partnership and with the support of the European Commission.
- Completes and submits the application form, attaching the declaration signed by a legal representative of the local authority and by the locally elected representative.