Active citizenship is a broad concept and can be used to refer to a wide range of participation in democratic life. According to different definitions, active citizenship may mean exerting influence on a small scale in one’s close environment while other definitions describe it as diverse participation in the cultural, economic, political and social life. What all the definitions have in common is that people belong to a community and work for its benefit.
Active citizenship is considered to require knowledge and an understanding of the functioning of society, its laws and institutions. However, skills and functional capacity are also needed, and theoretical distribution of information and learning alone are not enough to develop them. To enable the development of active citizenship, the functional and experiential dimensions of citizenship must be supported. This happens best in the activities themselves by practising involvement, decision-making and cooperation and by participating in different projects and civic engagement. It is precisely these skills and knowledge that participants learn in the European Solidarity Corps and Erasmus+.
The aim of the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes is to increase participation in society by supporting active citizenship and promoting the development of social and intercultural skills, critical thinking and media literacy. The programme prioritises projects that offer opportunities for participation in society and young people's civic engagement. In the youth sector, the activities are based on the European Union Youth Strategy.
In addition, raising awareness and understanding of the European Union matters, the common values of the EU and the principles of diversity and belonging to a community play a key role. At the same time, efforts are made to foster a sense of belonging to the European Union.