The European Parliament wants to boost the European Voluntary Service and turn it into a true EU civic service that will allow thousands of young Europeans to have a cross-cultural experience while contributing to the community.
Socialists and Democrats are at the forefront of this initiative and they support the opening of negotiations with the EU Council to make sure that member states fully support the new European Solidarity and Voluntary Service (ESVS).
Silvia Costa MEP, the S&D spokesperson on the ESVS in the committee on culture and education, said:
“There is a small Voluntary Service now, as part of the Erasmus+ programme. But we want to fully develop it as a self-standing Service and ensure fresh money for it, to allow a significant number of young Europeans to benefit from it. So far 100,000 Europeans took part in the Voluntary Service since it was created 22 years ago. We share the objective of 100,000 Europeans - aged between 18 and 30 - to take part in the new European Solidarity and Voluntary Service to participate until 2020, but not at the cost of the majority of the Erasmus budget!
“We welcome the Commission’s proposal to create an online portal as an easier way for participants and organisations to register. We have also reintroduced the role of ‘sending’ organisations, as they have an important responsibility*, and strengthened a real cross-border and intercultural dimension, which will reinforce the sense of a European citizenship rooted in solidarity.
“This civic service will provide an opportunity for the young - both European and non-European residing in the EU - to have the full experience of what it means to be part of a transnational community. We also propose a Charter to define responsibilities, rights and duties inside the ESVS and the recognition of the Service in the youth CV as non-formal education in the context of Europass.
“I hope that the negotiations with the Council will proceed rapidly and we will soon have the new Solidarity and Voluntary Service fully running.”
S&D MEP Petra Kammerevert, who chairs the committee on culture and education, said:
"A European Solidarity and Voluntary Service will foster a personal practical sets of skills for young people throughout Europe while reinforcing solidarity; a European core value. I am truly convinced that it can offer enriching experiences that will last a lifetime.
“Taking part in this Service is a clear statement to actively engage myself in the promotion of a fair and equal society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality prevail.
“To enlarge and to re-vitalise the idea of the European Voluntary Service, founded 22 years ago, is one right answer Europe can give to the actual global challenges we are facing.”
MEP Brando Benifei, who is the ESVS rapporteur and S&D spokesperson in the employment committee, said:
"The Parliament adopted a strong text, which brings an essential contribution to the Commission’s original document, thanks to the precious indications by the many stakeholders who shared their experiences on the ground during the pilot phase. All our proposals strive to raise the quality of the solidarity placements offered to young people under the programme.
"The S&D Group has worked hard to include clear rules to separate volunteering from traineeships and jobs placements, in order to avoid any possible misuse. In particular, it is imperative to avoid that volunteers are used to carry out tasks which should be performed under regular employment, based on national laws, which should always be recognised as such.”
* Note to the editors:
Each project involves a sending, hosting and co-ordinating organisation. The young participants will do their service at the host organisation. The co-ordination organisation is in charge of requesting the grant and taking on the financial and administrative responsibility of the whole project. The sending organisation is the one that the participant will be in touch with before leaving abroad, and it will do both the training beforehand, and the evaluation when the participant comes back. To know more, read here