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09-05-2021 10:59

Message by the Commissioner for Volunteerism and Non-Governmental Organizations, Mr Yiannis Yiannaki, on the 9 May – Europe Day

Europe Day is celebrated on May 9, a date that marks the anniversary of the historic "Schuman Declaration". In 1950, Robert Schuman, then French Foreign Minister, in a speech in Paris, proposed a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would prevent any possibility of war between the peoples of Europe. He envisioned the creation of a European body that would centrally manage coal and steel production. Just a year later, the Treaty establishing this body was signed. That is why Schuman's proposal is considered the beginning of the current European Union (EU).

Europe Day is not just a celebration, but a call to action. This year, May 9 marks both Europe Day and the Conference on the Future of Europe. On the occasion of the Day, the European Parliament gives European citizens the opportunity to determine the future of Europe. The interconnectedness of the two events shows that change is needed now more than ever. The Conference on the Future of Europe offers the platform to hear the voice and opinion of Europeans, wherever they are, so that Europe can move towards a brighter future. The European Parliament, as the driving force for democratic change, will be the meeting place where citizens can come together, to make the big decisions needed to improve our common home, Europe.

At the same time, on the occasion of Europe Day, every year in early May, the EU institutions open their doors to the public, in Brussels and Strasbourg. Local EU offices in Europe and around the world organized events and activities for all ages. Thousands of people take part in visits, public debates, concerts and other celebrations to inform the public about the EU. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the EU is inviting citizens from across Europe and the world to discover it in a safe and mostly virtual way, with physical or hybrid events and visits taking place where sanitary conditions allow it.

As the Office of the Commissioner for Volunteerism and NGOs, we celebrate together with Europe, feeling proud that our country is a member of the great European family.

We share the EU's Core Values, which are Peace, Unity, Democracy, Inclusivity, Participation and Solidarity. The EU has given and continues to place great importance to citizen participation in policy-making, but also to the implementation of important programs to strengthen volunteerism and the youth sector.

Especially in the Third Sector, the policies implemented by our Office in the field of Active Citizenship, Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society and Volunteering are recognized by the EU and the Council of Europe. In previous visits of the Commissioner to Brussels, it was noted that Cyprus is one of the few Member States that has a comprehensive and modern Policy Framework on these issues. In addition, it was decided by the European Commission to make use of the policies of the Republic of Cyprus in the field of Civil Society and to strengthen cooperation in promoting the program of the European Solidarity Body. Finally, the Office of the Commissioner for Volunteerism and Non-Governmental Organizations received a congratulatory letter from the European Commission on how to manage volunteers during the pandemic, as Cyprus' practice in managing volunteerism has emerged as a European Good Practice.

(EK/ECHR)