Applications for the EESC Civil Society Prize hit a new record this year, with 285 projects submitted by the deadline. The largest number of applicants came from Italy, followed by Austria and Germany. The number of entries for the EESC Civil Society Prize has increased steadily from its humble beginnings in 2006, when only 15 projects were entered for prizes totalling EUR 20 000. This year, EUR 50 000 will be awarded to up to 5 winners.
The theme of the 2016 Civil Society Prize is migrants, which during the last two years has filled newspaper pages, been widely covered on radio and television, fomented political debate and dominated ordinary conversation, polarising families, communities, countries and Europe as a whole.
However, migration has also shown what Europe's civil society is capable of: a spontaneous, massive wave of solidarity rose from the ranks of civil society organisations as well as from individuals, who lent their invaluable support when it was most needed at the height of this migration flow and are still providing their vital assistance now. The EESC believes that this major contribution deserves recognition and wishes to reward those projects that have provided migrants and refugees with practical, social or psychological support, offered them shelter, helped them integrate into their host society or have contributed to mutual understanding and the fight against xenophobia and racism.
The great number of projects submitted reflects the European public's strong commitment to helping people in need. It is also proof that European citizens and civil society at large cherish European values such as solidarity and social responsibility.
The eligibility of applications has by now been checked and eligible applicants will be evaluated and shortlisted by a four-member evaluation committee. A selection board consisting of the EESC President, Vice-Presidents