Launch of the Pro-I3T project – 10/01/2012

Following a proposal submitted by the Union of Cyprus Municipalities within the European Programme “Europe for Citizens”, the European Commission decided to co-finance the cooperation between the Union of Cyprus Municipalities and the Assembly of European Regions (AER), in order to develop information tools for the promotion and development of thematic Twinnings between their members, but also with Towns from the rest of the European Union.

The Pro-I3T project (Providing Information Tools on Thematic Twinning) has been launched on the 9th of January and has a duration of 12 months. Throughout this time, local and regional authorities around Europe will be trained to set thematic priorities for projects, formulate their ideas, find partners and target their actions. To do that, detailed information and training on the Europe for Citizens Programme, as well as a detailed listing of all other EU Grants and programmes capable to finance their actions will be offered to participants: 15 comprehensive thematic guides (on education and youth, culture and media, employment and social affairs, research and development, industry and enterprises, external relations and development, commerce, energy, environment, transport, public health and consumer protection, justice and home affairs, information technology, agriculture and fisheries) will be produced in English and in Greek. Each guide will comprise:
a) information on the structure and functioning of the EU,
b) presentation of the Europe for Citizens programme and how a project idea could be formulated and financed from the programme
c) a complete listing of all other European programmes that could finance a project within this thematic area (e.g. education and youth),
d) a detailed methodology on how to prepare and submit a project.

Two training sessions (one in Cyprus and one in Brussels) will teach local and regional practitioners how to use the provided material and how to better finance their actions.

The Pro-I3T project is being co-financed through the “Measure 2.2. Support Measures” of the Europe for Citizens programme, which aims at improving the quality of projects submitted within Action 1 “Active Citizens for Europe”. For more information: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/citizenship/index_en.php.

Pro-I3T project: Why do we need it? – 29/02/2012

The lack of information on the EU and its activities is common for the majority of local and regional authorities around Europe. The problem is even more intense for peripheral entities such as Cyprus, but even Local and Regional entities in the Centre of Europe do not always know how the EU can help them implement their ideas and projects.

By informing regions, local authorities and citizens on the possibilities offered by thematic town twinning and other EU grants and on the way these can be used to help develop local/regional communities, the Pro-I3T project will help local and regional officials and citizens understand that the European Union is not only the Brussels based administration, that it has programmes which can help the local and regional communities in any aspect of their daily functioning and that ordinary people can really participate and benefit from them.

Up to now, the Europe for Citizens programme has been discarded by a lot of municipalities, since it has been considered to give limited resources and only for a limited variety of projects (mainly cultural exchanges). Pro-I3T aims to demonstrate that this is not the case, and that cooperation in the framework of the Europe for Citizens programme can really extend to any aspect of the daily life of European citizens. This will trigger reflections and discussions on the local/regional impact of EU policies, their capacity to change societies and daily life. Additionally, by making the information on the Europe for Citizens and other programmes available in different ways, the Pro-I3T will make the programme accessible to all (IT literate or not, different ages etc).

The participation of the AER in the project will bring in a multicultural aspect to the events and the material produced. Trainers and trainees participating to the events will originate from various European countries, and thus provide for a pan-european dimension of the project. The participation of the AER will also bring up the questions of Multi-level governance and subsidiarity which are in the epicentre of the EU, especially after the Lisbon Treaty.

The British All Party Parliamentary Group on Cyprus British MPs lead clean up of cemeteries and churches – 30/03/2012

David Burrowes MP – Chairman of the Cyprus All Party Parliamentary Group and the two lead member of the religious and cultural heritage sub-committee Matthew Offord MP and Jim Sheridan MP, together with Nick de Bois MP are inviting volunteers from both communities to support the clean up session of churches and cemeteries in Cyprus. The anticipated two day cleaning session will commence in the morning of the 10th May and conclude on the afternoon of the 11th May 2012.

The Archbishop Chrisostomos has asked for work to be carried out at the following sites:
St. Anastasios(2churches)- Peristerona
Archangel Michel- Pigi of Amochostos
Panagia –Genegra
St George – Genagra
Panagia – Assia
St Artemonas –Afania
Cemetery of village Pigi (Amochostos)
Cemetery of village Genagra
Cemetery of village Assia

Turkish Cypriots have also asked the Cyprus APPG Members to visit cemeteries in the following villages:

Kivisili
Dromolaxia
Kala Chorio
Skarinou
Kofinou
Kotsiatis

David Burrowes MP said “When I last visited Cyprus with Nick de Bois in November I was appalled by the condition of the churches and cemeteries which I visited. I resolved to do something practical about it and return with volunteers to clean up and restore some respect to religious and cultural heritage and also build confidence. The aim of the visit is not to apportion blame for the past nor deal with longer term issues of restoration of heritage, but to in a measured way show some care for the sites that remain and restore some respect. We will be visiting both Christian and Muslim sites and I encourage both Greek and Turkish Cypriots to take part and support the initiative.”

If you would like to join the group of volunteers, particularly if you have a family connection to the villages please email Marina Savva the CYP-APPG Secretariat directly at [email protected] to express your interest; we have been working closely with a reputable travel agency and prepared a package deal to support volunteers wishing to participate in the clean up session.

Pro-I3T project: How can it help you? – 30/03/2012

The usual question that an association like the Union of Cyprus Municipalities (UCM) or the Assembly of European Regions (AER) receives from its members concerning town twinning is: “I have this project idea. Can I finance it through town twinning and how?”

Pro-I3T will aim to reply to that question in a structured and detailed way, with up-to-date information, written in a simple way that can be easily understood by every municipal or regional officer or even simple citizens. Pro-I3T consists of two main components:

1. The production of 15 comprehensive thematic guides. In addition to these guides, the already existing “Guide to EU funding” will be updated and translated in English. This comprehensive brochure has proven to be extremely useful for Cypriot local authorities, and its translation into English will give all European local authorities the possibility to use it. All information guides will be in a form of a CD Rom. This will permit to small local authorities that do not have access to IT, to get access to the information material. The guides will also be uploaded on a website in order to make them available to the totality of local and regional authorities in the EU and beyond.

2. The organising of two training sessions (one in Cyprus and one in Brussels) which will aim to teach local and regional practitioners how to use the provided information material (CD-Roms, websites etc) and therefore how to improve the quality and the implementation procedures of their activities. The first training session will take place in September 2012 in Cyprus and it will take the form of an AER “training academy”. This training method has been repeatedly implemented by the AER, a fact that guarantees the quality of the event. The second one will take place in October 2012 in Brussels, in the premises of the Committee of the Regions of the EU. This event will be open for participation to all European local and regional authorities and civil society stakeholders, not only members of the UCM and the AER.

In both sessions (Nicosia and Brussels), participants will have the possibility to share their experiences in working with European programmes and the Europe for Citizens programme and will explore the possibilities for twinnings among their members and with Municipalities from the rest of the EU. They will also be trained upon the use of the information tools of Pro-I3T as well as online partner search tools and the application procedures for the Europe for Citizens programme. Finally, they will have the possibility to discuss on the advantages and realities of multilevel-governance, the need for regional and local planning of actions, and of course on the EU itself.

Pro-I3T project: In close cooperation with the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU – 30/04/2012

Since the launch of the Pro-I3T project, we have been working in close cooperation with the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU. Thus, the Brussels Office of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities (UCM), in collaboration with the Assembly of European Regions (AER), have decided to organize on June 19, 2012 an event presenting to the local and regional representations based in Brussels, both the Pro-I3T project and the priorities of the Cyprus Presidency.

Speakers at the event will be Mr. Fanourios Pantelogiannis (Head of the UCM Brussels Office), Mr. Pascal Goergen (Secretary General of the AER), Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, presidency spokesperson for the COREPER II issues at the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU and Mr. Adonis Constantinides, Minister Counselor, Coordinator MFF and Cohesion Policy, also at the Permanent Representation of Cyprus.

The event, which will take place in the premises of the Brussels Office of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities, will not be the only one that will be organised in cooperation with the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Three more events will be organised   under the auspices of the Cyprus Presidency. The first one will take place on 6 and 7 September 2012 in Nicosia. The seminar on “The role of local authorities in the area of social inclusion with particular reference to the integration of immigrants” and the Bureau meeting of Committee of the Regions (CoR) of the European Union will be an excellent opportunity to present the Pro-I3T event in front of a large international public.

The second one will again take place in Nicosia (on 11 September 2012) and will be the first training event in the framework of the Pro-I3T project. Finally, the third event under the auspices of the Cyprus Presidency will take place on 23 October 2012 in Brussels.

Pro-I3T study visit to Brussels: 22-24 October 2012 – 31/05/2012

In the framework of the Pro-I3T project, a study visit will be organized from Cyprus to Brussels in October 2012. The visit is addressed primarily to newly elected Mayors (Municipal elections took place in Cyprus in December 2011) and new Municipal Secretaries of Cypriot Municipalities.

During their stay in Brussels, participants will get acquainted with the realities of Brussels, will discover the Brussels Offices of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities and the Assembly of European Regions, and will get informed about funding opportunities and other possibilities that the EU offers to local and regional authorities. Participants will also get acquainted with the European Institutions, their officers and working methods, but will also focus on more specific issues and contacts that they will choose according to their functions and interests. The study visit to Brussels will therefore hold a key role in the project, since it will familiarize Cypriot Mayors with the work and personnel of the EU (information visits to the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament) and will give them the possibility to meet and establish direct contacts with representatives of other Municipalities and Regions from all around Europe.

The participants of the study visit will also participate to the final conference of the Pro-I3T projects that will take place on 23 October 2012 in Brussels. During this event, they will be trained on how to work with European programmes (especially the Europe for Citizens programme), will explore the possibilities for creating twinnings with Municipalities from the rest of the EU, as well as discuss challenges and potentials of the future programming period.

After the visit, participants will be asked to complete questionnaires in order to measure their degree of satisfaction for the study visit, based on ten criteria, related to their expectations before the visit, the structure of the program of the visit, the degree to which the visit served the purpose of the Pro-I3T project, as well as the knowledge gained from the visit.

Pro-I3T project: First presentation to the public – 30/06/2012

On June 19, the Brussels Office of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities (UCM), in cooperation with the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union and the Assembly of European Regions (AER), organized a “Breakfast Briefing” on the Cyprus Presidency priorities.

The event gathered in the UCM Brussels Office, more than 60 Representatives of Local and Regional Authorities.

The Breakfast Briefing focused on the policies and strategies of the Cyprus Presidency that aim to give the regions the means to act in the current and future context, taking in particular into consideration the reform of the cohesion policy.

Keynote speakers for the event were Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, presidency spokesperson for the COREPER II issues and Mr. Adonis Constantinides, Minister Counselor, Coordinator for MFF and Cohesion policy, who set out the priorities of the EU Presidency and addressed the key challenges.

Mr. Christodoulides and Mr. Constantinides also focused on the benefits and challenges that will arise for the Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, during the semester of the Cyprus Presidency.

The event has also been an excellent opportunity to present the Pro-I3T project to representatives of Local and Regional Authorities, as well as to journalists based in Brussels and abroad.

The Pro-I3T project was presented to the participants by Mr. Pascal Goergen, Secretary General of the Assembly of European Regions and Mr. Fanis Pantelogiannis, Head of the Brussels Office of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities.

 

The destruction of the Cultural Heritage of Cyprus by Turkey (Video) – 09/07/2012

This short film, which was an initiative of the Committee of Cyprus Occupied Municipalities, portrays the destruction of the cultural heritage of Cyprus by Turkey that has been taking place in the northern part of Cyprus since the Turkish military invasion in 1974. Turkey and the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime bear the sole responsibility for the present condition of hundreds of archaeological and religious monuments in the occupied areas: hundreds of religious monuments have been desecrated, looted or demolished; a significant number of churches have been converted into mosques, stables, dance studios, storehouses and one of them has become a morgue. Moreover, several archaeological places that were famous and recognized throughout the world were destroyed or illegally excavated while a great number of antiquities were smuggled and remain unfound until today. Script by: Anna Marangou Directed by: Michael Georgiades Produced by Mediabox Limited for the Committee of Cyprus Occupied Municipalities, Nicosia, 2011

Script by: Anna Marangou
Directed by: Michael Georgiades
Produced by Mediabox Limited for the Committee of Cyprus Occupied Municipalities, Nicosia, 2011

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Pro-I3T: First training session to be held in Cyprus – 31/07/2012

The first training session of the  Pro-I3T project took place in Nicosia (Cyprus) on September 11, 2012. Participants have been trained upon the use of the information tools of  Pro-I3T (in Greek) as well as online partner search tools and the application procedures for the Europe for Citizens programme. Best practices from various European Regions have also been presented.

The workshop involved Municipal and Regional officers from various European countries, who presented relevant material from previous experiences and good practices, as well as useful guidelines for municipalities wishing to submit project proposals.

The session started with a welcome speech from Mr. Yiannis Antoniades, Secretary General of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities and then Mr. Fanourios Pantelogiannis, Head of Brussels Office of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities presented the Pro-I3T project and its information tools, including the Thematic Guides to EU Funding.

Following this presentation, Mrs. Ourania Georgoutsakou, Senior Policy Coordinator and Mrs. Regine Kramer, Policy Coordinator of the Assembly of European Regions presented the AER, its activities and the opportunities it offers to Cypriot Municipalities.

Mr. Cédric Virciglio – Director of the Bureau Alsace, talked about building synergies between local and European strategies through European projects and presented the Alsatian example. Following this presentation, Dr. David Moser, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Renewable Energy of the European Academy of Bozen/ Bolzano (EURAC), presented the PV Initiative on photovoltaic technologies and Mr. Mario Miranda, President of the NGO Norte Crescente, talked about youth unemployment and mobility programmes in the Azores.

The Thematic Guides are now available! – 31/08/2012

A few days before the first training session of our project, that will take place on September 11, at 09.00, in the Holiday Inn Hotel in Nicosia (Cyprus), the Thematic Guides of the project are already in the final stage of their preparation (for the time being only in Greek).

But what’s the use of the Thematic Guides? Anyone who has tried even once to look for an EU programme in order to fund an activity of a local or regional authority, will be able to understand: The European Union has dozens of programmes from which one could raise funds, but there is no one website or publication where all these pro-grammes are presented together in a simple and comparative way. Thus, finding the appropriate funding programme becomes a very difficult endeavour, which can often only be overcome with the -usually costly- help of a knowledgeable individual (employee or consultant).

The Thematic Guides of the Pro-I3T project, not only solve this problem by bringing together all EU funding programmes in one place, but can also help you choose the most suitable one for your action, understand its function and logic and ultimately make a project proposal in order to receive funds.

To see how this can be achieved, we should take a look at the four chapters, that each guide comprises:

  1. The first chapter of each guide contains information on the structure and functioning of the EU. The usefulness of this chapter is substantial, as the understanding of the entity that will co-fund your activities, is vital in order to actually persuade them to finance you.
  2. The second chapter of each guide contains a presentation of the “Europe for Citizens” programme and explains how an idea for a project or action could be correctly formulated and co-funded by the programme. “Europe for Citizens” can finance simple activities of towns and their citizens, which may touch upon almost all the sectors of daily life. It is therefore a programme which forms an excellent starting point for those seeking funds for their actions.
  3. The third chapter of each guide contains a complete list of all other European programmes that could co-finance an action and
  4. The fourth chapter contains a detailed methodology on how to prepare and submit a successful project proposal.