The 2021 Europe Prize – the highest level of the Prize which is awarded each year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to the town most active in promoting the European ideal – has been awarded to Khmelnytskyi in Ukraine.
Khmelnytskyi is a city of 290 000 inhabitants located in the west of Ukraine, in the historic region of Podolia, on the banks of the Boug river.
The city actively co-operates with 13 twin cities: Silistra (Bulgaria), Rustavi (Georgia), Šiauliai (Lithuania), Bălţi (Republic of Moldova), Ciechanów (Poland), Bor (Serbia), Manises (Spain), Kramfors (Sweden), Starobilsk (Ukraine), Carmel (Israel), Aguascalientes (Mexico), Modesto (United States) and Shijiazhuang (China). The city is constantly seeking to expand its co-operation and establish economic, scientific, technical and cultural partnerships with new cities. It is also very concerned with environmental issues and leads projects in this area.
Young people are at the heart of the activities organised throughout the year by Khmelnytskyi: joint programmes between schools, colleges and universities with educational establishments in other European countries; organising “Europe Week” in schools; and familiarising young people with the history, culture and traditions of European countries through various events.
Khmelnytskyi has been celebrating Europe Day since 2003, notably by organising festivals of European culture under the banner “Europe in our heart” and quizzes and competitions for pupils, as well as arranging meetings of European clubs in educational institutions. The European flag is raised to celebrate local and national holidays, including Europe Day and the European Day of Languages.
To ensure co-operation with its twin cities, Khmelnytskyi created a unique project in 2020: an online platform of twin cities, which includes exhibitions by Khmelnytskyi and its twin cities, with coverage of investment and export opportunities, and presentation of strategic projects. The platform allows citizens to find useful information about the twinned cities and make useful contacts.
Three other towns - namely Bamberg in Germany, Kielce in Poland and Münster in Germany - were also shortlisted for the Prize, and the committee commended their applications.
Created by PACE in 1955, the Europe Prize is the highest distinction that can be bestowed on a European town for its actions in the European domain. The prize consists of a trophy, a medal, a diploma and a scholarship to be spent on a study visit to European institutions for young people from the winning town.
The committee also awarded 5 Plaques of Honour, 4 Flags of Honour and 6 European Diplomas – awards which also form part of the Europe Prize. Full details here.