The study visit of the DECISIVE project in Brussels took place from the 2nd to the 5th of November. 40 participants attended the trip, including 38 citizens, elected officials and municipal officers from 16 Cypriot municipalities, the twinning officer of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities and a representative of the Local Union of Municipalities and Communities of the Prefecture of Chios.
The participants were selected by the Union of Cyprus Municipalities according to the following criteria:
- a) It was obligatory for the participants to have participated to the first training seminar of the DECISIVE project, which was held in Cyprus on May 18, 2010.
- b) Nearly all citizens who have expressed real interest in the project and town twinning have been selected to participate in the study visit, provided that their municipality has proven over the last few years that is interested in town twinning and that it could send an officer to Brussels to participate in the study visit.
- c) For each selected municipality, there should be at least one officer and one citizen or elected representative participating in the study visit. As the DECISIVE project seeks to develop cooperation between municipalities and volunteers, it would be pointless to have only officers participating from a municipality without citizens and vice versa.
- d) As far as possible, participants of the study visit were chosen among organized groups of citizens or among the so-called multipliers, in order to convey the purpose of the project and their experiences to as many other citizens as possible.
The group of participants arrived at Brussels on November 2. The same evening the participants attended a dinner where they met the two officers of the Brussels Office of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities who would accompany them throughout the course of the study visit.
On November 3, the participants visited the Brussels Office of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities, where they attended initially a presentation on the role of the Office and the programme of the study visit
This was followed by a presentation from the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) titled “The European Town Twinning Movement, role and activities of CEMR”. The CEMR officer responsible for Town Twinning also presented the www.twinning.org website, which is one of the main tools for Municipalities wishing to participate in Town Twinning.
A lunch followed the presentation and then, the participants attended a session with a review of the DECISIVE project’s progress. Later on, every participating municipality presented its current situation in relation to Town Twinning and the activities they undertook after the first training session of the DECISIVE project. Opinions of citizens were also heard on how to improve their communication with municipalities, as well as ideas for improving the operating procedures within the municipalities. The same evening all the participants attended a dinner.
On November 4, the participants visited the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the EU. The Agency’s activities and the application process for the funding of Town Twinning projects were presented to the group. During the discussion, participants had the opportunity to address their questions and become better acquainted with EU officials, who handle applications submitted by the municipalities for funding through the Europe for Citizens programme.