The idea for the Action Weeks was born on the 25th anniversary of the reactor explosion in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in what is today Ukraine. On this occasion the IBB first invited Chernobyl initiatives from all over Europe to a joint partnership conference in Minsk in April 2011. Only one month earlier, in March 2011, a second core melt accident had occurred in the Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima which brought back the almost forgotten memories of Chernobyl within Europe. Fukushima thus showed clearly the need for a pan-European culture of remembrance that facilitates societal learning from experiences with catastrophes.
The European Action Weeks are organised by a broad spectrum of initiatives and organisations. The structure of the partner organisations and the specific objectives of the activities vary according to the size of the Chernobyl initiatives and the energy situation in the respective countries.
Aims and objectives
The European Action Weeks have various objectives: In particular young people shall learn how the catastrophes of Chernobyl and Fukushima have influenced and continue to influence the lives of people in the affected countries. Therefore, talks with eyewitnesses of both catastrophes in schools, churches, associations as well as other public organisations and institutions are at the core of the Action Weeks. These dialogues aim to initiate learning processes for the future as the testimony of the eyewitnesses best demonstrate why sustainable energy supply in Europe and on a global scale is essential for future generations.
A further important objective of the European Action Weeks is to raise awareness among a broad public about the existence of charities and NGOs across Europe involved in delivering aid and support to the people affected by Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Support and dialogue with politicians
In 2013, the European Parliament represented by its President Martin Schulz took over the patronage for the European Action Weeks for the first time. Famous politicians further support the Action Weeks in the participating countries. In Spain, the participating initiatives together with their contemporary witnesses had the possibility to take part in a meeting with the Senate. In Great Britain, meetings with members of the British House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament took place. In Germany - where members of the European Chernobyl Network and contemporary witnesses had been invited to the German Bundestag in October 2012 - members of the German Bundestag participated in events of the Action Weeks.