EU office: Newsletter - May 2020
European support in the coronavirus crisis
Photo: European Union, 2020
The European Commission has been reacting to the coronavirus pandemic by giving member states access to every possible measure. The first action it took was to activate the opt-out clause of the Stability and Growth Pact, enabling states to support their own healthcare systems, medical workers and citizens severely impacted by the crisis. At the end of March, the Commission unveiled a package of measures designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, safeguard access to medical equipment, intensify research and combat the socioeconomic impacts of the crisis. Numerous application deadlines for EU funding programmes and prizes have also been extended or postponed.
The EU Office in Chemnitz receives EU-News update on the crisis, which summarises the relevant events of the previous day for municipalities. This includes a brief overview from the European Office of Local Authorities of Saxony on developments within a variety of areas on an EU level, such as the awarding of aid from the Cohesion and Solidarity Funds, the funding of research into the Covid-19 virus through the HORIZON 2020 programme, data protection guidelines for new apps designed to support the fight against the coronavirus, delays in the timeline for the Green Deal, the continuation of lending to banks and the impact of EU regulations on asylum law. The EU Office in turn passes this helpful information on to the various departments of the Chemnitz City Administration.
Photo: European Union, 2020
The EU is providing a virtual “Learning Corner” to support parents and teachers through the crisis. It gives children and young people the opportunity to learn through play, with activities for four different age groups. Games and puzzles with information about the EU are provided in all EU languages. Some of the materials for these online lessons include the “Europe better together!” activity book, the “EU Timeline” webpage and the “The EU in slides” slideshow. Younger children can play the “EU puzzle” and “Zoe makes a splash!” games, which also offer printable colouring sheets. The “EU & Me” quiz allows young people to select a topic and test their knowledge of the EU. Teachers are also able to use the platform to get in contact with schools from across Europe.
International collaboration continues despite travel ban
URBACT Transfer Network ALT/BAU
Photo: City of Chemnitz
What does the coronavirus pandemic mean for current EU projects? – One particularly heavily hit example is Chemnitz’s URBACT Transfer Network, ALT/BAU. Its fourth transnational meeting in Rybnik could not take place as planned in March. Instead, a virtual meeting was arranged at short notice where participants were able to share information on financial and legal instruments that can be used to stimulate the reactivation of empty buildings and apartments, and which of these are still available. In a further webinar on 14 April 2020, the group discussed solutions related to the use of geographic information systems (GIS). Partner cities were also presented with the initial results from the evaluation of the StadtWohnen agency. The URBACT programme has been extended by six months to June 2021.
The Chemnitz non-profit organization solaris Förderzentrum für Jugend und Umwelt gGmbH Sachsen (solaris FZU, Centre for Youth and the Environment) has been sending and receiving European volunteers as part of the “European Solidarity Corps” (ESC) programme since 2015. This time around, they and their compatriots around the world have been challenged in a completely unexpected way. Yet despite the current situation with coronavirus, the four young people from Italy, Spain, Greece and Armenia have chosen to continue their volunteer work here in Chemnitz. A few weeks ago, they had to decide whether to travel home quickly or stay together to fight the impact of the coronavirus. For them, now is precisely the time to stay and support the organisations they have been helping. Their months of volunteering in Chemnitz were what they had been looking forward to most in 2020. But life is what happens when we’re making plans. The coronavirus pandemic has changed their daily lives completely. But the group has come to terms with the situation, despite homesickness and their concerns about their families. As well as providing support in Chemnitz’s reception centres, they are continuing to learn German, doing plenty of cooking, meditating and chatting with friends. We’ll hear more about their time here soon …
Join us online
For young people aged between 16 and 30 who are interested in living in another European country, carrying out a project there and gaining experience, there will be a chance to take part in the “Europe to GO” live event on Saturday 09 May 2020 from 15:00-15:30 at the following link:
There will be plenty of information and tips from our current volunteers, plus a chance to sing with the band JANTE
Photo: Franco-German Youth Office
As schools in many European countries are currently closed, the Pädagogische Austauschdienst (Pedagogical Exchange Service) is providing a range of creative ways for young people to learn online and discuss topics internationally. One example is the Franco-German Youth Office’s “#CasanierStubenhocker” campaign, which shows that even the coronavirus cannot stop the two countries from working together. It calls on young people to explain from their sofas how a German-French friendship can continue digitally.
EUROCITIES platform, virtual meetings, collaboration with the Commission
Photo: European Union, 2020
In these times of crisis, EUROCITIES sees itself in the privileged position of promoting understanding and learning between people, cities and countries. Now is the time to continue this work across our borders. EUROCITIES has recognised that the way in which we react to the crisis determines the future of our cities and therefore the future of Europe. The network enables cities to find solutions to current challenges together, support one another and prepare for times to come.
A new platform has been added to its website where cities can share their experiences of the coronavirus crisis. The “City overviews” section lists concrete measures that have been taken. For example, Lyon has created a digital platform through which farmers can offer their products and consumers can support their local suppliers now that traditional markets are closed. In Düsseldorf, the Cultural Office and the Office for Social Affairs are putting on “window concerts” in front of the balconies and windows of care homes to provide a little entertainment and bring joy to residents. The project also supports the musicians and artists who have lost their income. Another section provides a forum to ask questions and share experiences of Covid-19 measures. Posts can be made in the following categories: Limit the spread, Public services, Food supply, Social services, Economy and jobs, Culture, and Governance. In the latter, cities are discussing ideas and visions of how they could look once the crisis is over, and what could be a trigger for change.
Photo: European Union, 2020
EUROCITIES is now carrying out many of the forums and working group meetings planned for this period via video conference, with webinars being offered on topical issues. Afterwards, a live recording is provided and the most important outcomes are published as “Takeaways”. On 22 April 2020, 75 people from 50 cities discussed the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) with the European Commission’s Director General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. The previous webinar on 1 April on the topic of “EU funding to fight coronavirus” was followed by 175 people from 70 cities (in 20 countries). The Commission’s Deputy Director General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion also spoke at the event. In a joint video from the EUROCITIES network published the following day, mayors called for cross-border solidarity during the crisis.
Children asked to design sustainable mobility solutions
Photo: Source: Federal Environment Agency
As children are currently spending a lot of time at home, the German Environment Agency has brought forward an art competition originally planned for the autumn. The German coordinating office for European Mobility Week is providing templates for them to download and complete. The sheets feature the EMW mascots Edgar and Edda, and ask children to draw a sustainable mode of transport. They can also design a new road sign. In one of the templates, Edda’s grandmother imagines a city where she can get around alone with confidence. If you like, you can send your finished artwork to the Federal Environment Agency, which is displaying a selection of the pictures online. This year’s European Mobility Week will take place from 16 to 22 September, with the theme “Zero-emission mobility for all”.