Towards the establishment of a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps
A new European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps is to be established as a framework for the involvement of citizens in operations of the European Union (EU). The Corps is to contribute to the EU’s overall response to humanitarian disasters.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 23 November 2010 - How to express EU citizen's solidarity through volunteering: First reflections on a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps [COM(2010) 683 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The Lisbon Treaty provides for the establishment of a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps (EVHAC). To this end, the Commission examines the best approaches for its establishment, in particular concerning the identification and recruitment of volunteers, their training and their deployment.
The EVHAC must respect and promote the principles of:
- solidarity with people affected by disasters and cohesion of European society;
- humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, as set out in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid;
- professionalism and safety, in order to meet needs in a rapid and operational manner, especially in conflict areas;
- coordination and cooperation with existing humanitarian organisations and structures.
The establishment of the EVHAC must take advantage of the experience gained from existing volunteering schemes. The new Corps must bring added value to the conduct of the EU’s humanitarian aid operations.
Its functioning must also meet the needs of humanitarian organisations and the conditions of operation of voluntary organisations. From this perspective, the Commission proposes in particular to:
- develop critera for the identification of volunteers;
- establish training programmes based on common standards and good practices, as well as on conditions in countries and specific situations;
- establish stand-by rosters of experienced volunteers to ensure the smooth functioning of emergency operations;
- strengthen support to back-up functions in implementing organisations;
- improve advocacy for European citizens.
The EVHAC must receive specific financing, since its budget is not to be diverted from the core operational budget for the victims of humanitarian disasters. It must operate under increased security conditions, especially where interventions take place in areas affected by conflicts.
Finally, its scope of intervention must not be limited to emergencies but be extended to operations in the area of supporting local capacities, reconstruction and post-disaster recovery. The establishment of the EVHAC should make it possible to encourage twinning and exchanges with local organisations in third countries.
The voluntary sector has evolved rapidly in the last decade. A large number of organisations offer schemes open to European citizens, including the Commission-driven European Voluntary Service (EVS) and the United Nations Volunteers Programme.
On the occasion of the European Year of Voluntary Activities, several stages are to lead to the establishment of the EVHAC. Following public consultation, the Commission intends to table a legislative proposal in 2012.