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EESC in push to measure the economic value of volunteering

In a bid to secure better public authority recognition for the economic value of volunteering, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has pushed for a regulation to harmonise measurement of this activity in EU countries.

The Committee's push came in the form of an own-initiative opinion that the plenary session of the Brussels-based civil society assembly adopted yesterday evening.

“Volunteering is a win-win for all. It contributes to inclusive growth, boosts social and human capital, fosters intergenerational solidarity and offers sizeable economic value", said Krzysztof Pater (Poland, Various Interests Group), rapporteur for the opinion and himself a volunteer involved in many projects.

Yet, despite its merits and growing importance, volunteering remains widely unacknowledged and rarely captured by statistics, deplores the EESC. Currently, many Member States either do not aggregate data on volunteering at all, or use a range of definitions and methods, making it all but impossible to evaluate the size and value of the activity across the EU.

Arguing that national statistical offices do not do enough to research into volunteering on a common basis, the Committee has asked the European Commission to table a binding regulation that would harmonise the methodology for measurement of volunteering across the EU.

In drafting the regulation, the European Commission should draw on the International Labour Organisation's Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work that was developed to assist countries in gathering systematic and comparable data on unpaid work via supplements to labour force surveys.

On the basis of the methodological principles set out in the ILO Manual, the national statistical offices of three EU countries (Poland, Hungary and Italy) have already carried out surveys on the extent and value of volunteer work. By way of example, Mr Pater quotes his native Poland where the results of the survey show that volunteer work represented 2,8% of GDP and it was estimated to be equal to 9.6% of people working in the national economy in 2011.

The EESC considers that the European Commission should gather data resulting from research into volunteering carried out by the Member States and make them available in a consistent form at EU level.

Lastly, the Committee would also like to see binding legal measures in place so that non-profit organisations using volunteer work are able to offset the economic value of this work against public grants via a "co-financing" mechanism. In the Committee's view, this would go some way towards enabling smaller NGOs to participate in calls for tender from which they are often excluded due to their inability to raise the money required to co-finance the grant.

The opinion adopted yesterday by the European Economic and Social Committee will now be handed to the EU's decision-makers: the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

For more information, please contact:

EESC Press Unit


Tel.: +32 2 546 8641


The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 353 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.


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