European Citizenship & Values

Why is this topic a priority for the EU?

As we move into a post-Brexit and post-COVID world, we’re also moving into a new era for the European Union. This is a time of both rapid change and opportunity. The EU recognises that Europeans need a stronger role in decision-making processes and a more active role in setting political priorities on our common union values. As a result, EU institutions are pushing for more citizen and civil society involvement in EU-funded projects and programmes. 

This objective is reflected in the priorities of the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the EU’s long term budget for 2021-2027. Alongside the twin Green and Digital transitions, this new MFF emphasizes the importance of active EU citizenship and participation. Active citizenship and participation in democratic life is included as a top priority across many of the programmes that are funded by the MFF, including the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) and Erasmus+ programmes. 

In addition to encouraging civic engagement through its funding programmes, the European Commission also provides opportunities for civil society to make their voices heard through public consultation tools like the European Citizens Initiatives and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Relevant EU Policies and Objectives 

Citizenship, Equality, Rights & Values (CERV) Programme

With a budget of €1.55 billion for 2021 – 2027, CERV is the biggest-ever EU funding programme for promoting and protecting fundamental rights, rule of law and democracy inside the EU. The four strands of CERV are union values; equality, rights and gender equality; citizens’ engagement and participation and gender-based violence and violence against children.

Key Points:

  • CERV replaces both Europe for Citizens and the Rights, Equality, and Citizenship programme
  • The programme aims to nurture a strong and empowered civil society that fosters people's democratic, civic and social participation and inclusiveness
  • CERV will have synergies with other funding programmes promoting EU values including Erasmus+, Creative Europe, and Horizon Europe.

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

CERV will provide opportunities for civil society organisations to access funding to engage in activities which address the programme’s objectives. Civil society organisations will be able to access these funding streams through various calls for tenders and proposals throughout the 2021-2027 EU budget period.  

European Citizens Initiative 

The European Citizens' Initiative is a participatory democracy instrument that gives Europeans the opportunity to have a greater say in EU policies that affect their lives. Through European Citizens’ Initiatives, citizens can rally around issues together and call on the European Commission to propose new laws and/or initiate reforms.

Key Points:

  • To launch an initiative, it takes 7 EU citizens, living in at least 7 different Member States
  • Once an Initiative gathers 1 million signatures, the European Commission decides on what follow up action to take
  • Initiatives can be launched in any field where the Commission has power to propose legislation, such as consumer protection, energy, agriculture or transport, etc.

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

Through the European Citizens’ Initiative, civil society organisations can connect with like-minded organisations across Europe to advance causes they believe in. ECIs can empower civil society to amplify the voices of the communities they support and affect real change through shaping and influencing EU policy. 


Conference on the Future of Europe

The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) was a year-long EU-wide project in 2021 to seek citizens’ views about Europe’s future challenges and priorities. Led by a Joint Presidency of representatives from the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, the Conference took place virtually on its multilingual digital platform ( and through European Citizens’ Panels and Plenaries. 

Key Points:

  • Through creating an account on the CoFoE’s digital platform, members of the public and organisations were able to share ideas and organise events on topics like health, environment, and migration
  •  The Conference’s Executive Board monitored and analysed the ideas shared on the platform and put them forward to the European Citizens’ Panels and Plenaries
  • At the end of all the Conference events in Spring 2022, the Board presented its final recommendations for EU action in a report to the Joint Presidency.

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

Through participation in initiatives like the Conference on the Future of Europe, civil society organisations can make their voices and the voices of their beneficiaries heard at EU level and have a chance to make real change. The Conference’s online platform may become a permanent public consultation tool that civil society organisations can use to advance their causes.

Useful Links

New Cohesion Policy

The European Pillar of Social Rights in 20 principles

Information on EU citizenship

Have Your Voice Heard

Decisions that are made at the EU level can have a big impact on our daily lives. At The Wheel we believe that citizens’ active participation in society is vital so they can play a part in influencing the decisions that affect them.

Here’s how you can connect with the EU:

Join is an online community of pan-European active citizens interested in learning from each other and finding common ground on EU issues. Created by the European Parliament during the 2019 European elections, encourages everybody to participate in democracy through virtual events and activities.   

In the lead-up to May 2019, volunteers helped raise awareness about the issues that matter most to them, their friends and families. From climate change to data protection, thousands of EU citizens throughout Europe organised activities, events and debates to remind others that participation in pan-European platforms is essential to dealing with today's challenges.

Check out the latest events organised by the European Parliament and the community, happening online and across Europe, by joining  here.  


Vote in European elections and get to know your MEPs 

Following the European elections in May 2019, 11 MEPs representing Ireland's three constituencies, Dublin, South and Midlands-North-West, took their seats in the European Parliament on 2 July 2019 for Parliament's 9th term. 

With the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 31 January 2020, Ireland gained an additional two MEPs.  Barry Andrews (Fianna Fáil/ Renew Europe), Dublin, and Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael/ EPP), South, took up their seats in the European Parliament on 1 February 2020. 

Who are your MEPs and how can you contact them? We have gathered the information for you here.

Engage in EU-funded projects  

Through involvement in EU-funded projects, you’ll deliver on current EU policy and programme goals while helping to shape future policy.

Learn more about the various EU funding programmes and the projects they support here.

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