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European years

What’s a European Year?

It’s an awareness campaign on a specific issue to encourage debate and dialogue in and between EU countries. It highlights a particular issue to national governments, and aims to both inform and change attitudes.

The European Commission proposes the theme for a European Year, which is then adopted by the European Parliament and EU member governments. Although European years have been running for nearly 40 years, they don’t necessarily occur every year.

Why do we need them?

Many European years offer extra funding to local, national and cross-border projects that address the specific issue.

The European Year also sends a strong political signal from the EU institutions and member governments that the subject will be addressed in future policy-making. In some cases, the Commission may propose new legislation on the theme.

What are the themes?

European years have been taking place since 1983. Here’s some recent ones, including this year’s theme:

2023-2024 - European Year of Skills

Across the European Union, events and activities will be held to help people get the right skills for quality jobs and help companies address skill shortages. Job-seekers and employers alike will get access to numerous opportunities, share experiences and insights, and find out how EU initiatives and funding possibilities can help.

2022 - European Year of Youth

Throughout 2022, plenty of opportunities to engage in learning and civic engagement activities, meet new people, discover other cultures, improve employment prospects, share ideas, and many other activities will be made available to young Europeans. 

2021European Year of Rail

Events and initiatives to promote rail as a sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport and highlight its benefits for people, the economy and the climate.

2018European Year for Cultural Heritage

Find out about the 23,000 events held across Europe to raise awareness of Europe’s cultural heritage as a resource, protect it and guarantee its sustainability for the future.

2015European Year for Development

Find out how the EU informed Europeans about development cooperation, encouraging them to get involved in development activities. They also learned about how it benefits them and beneficiaries alike.

2013-2014European Year of Citizens

Citizens’ dialogues were a major outcome of this European Year, which was dedicated to encouraging the public to get involved in building a stronger and more political EU.