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European Commission - Press release

European Commission promotes cross-border volunteering

Brussels, 20 September 2011 - The European Commission today announced plans to further improve the recognition and promotion of volunteering in the EU. In the context of European Year of Volunteering 2011, the Commission's Communication on EU Policies and Volunteering outlines a range of measures that will help foster voluntary activities in the EU, including the creation of a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps and the development of a 'European Skills Passport'. Significantly, this is the first time the European Commission has adopted a policy document dedicated exclusively to volunteering.

Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, said: “There are 100 million volunteers in the EU today, who are helping to make Europe and the world a better place. The European Year of Volunteering 2011 highlights their achievements, encourages others to join in, and helps volunteers and volunteering organisations do even better.

Background

Volunteering activities directly contribute to the key objectives of EU policies such as social inclusion, employment, education, skills development and promotion of citizenship. However, there is no clear legal framework for volunteering activities and skills volunteers gain are often not sufficiently recognised. The Commission is committed to overcoming these obstacles to volunteering, particularly across borders.

In its Communication published today, the Commission outlines ways for the EU and its Member States to start fully exploiting the great potential offered by volunteering activities.

Actions to promote volunteering at EU level

The Commission has proposed to create a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps by 2012. Preparations are already under way for a framework for assistance from European volunteers in the humanitarian aid operations of the European Union.

In addition, the Commission is also working to increase the recognition of skills gained through volunteering activities by developing a 'European Skills Passport'. This will ensure recognition of professional qualifications across borders and will also give individuals the possibility of keeping a record of the skills and competences they acquire through volunteering. The passport will be based on the existing Europass (European online CV), to allow skills to be recorded in a transparent and comparable way.

There are already a number EU-level funding schemes for volunteering, of which the best-known is perhaps the European Voluntary Service (part of the EU's Youth in Action programme), which celebrates its fifteenth anniversary this year. The Commission wants to build on these success stories and further target volunteers in other policy areas.

The Commission has also outlined concrete ways for Member States to make better use of the potential of volunteering and calls for Member States to open national schemes for fostering cross-border volunteering.

For More information:

Link to the Communication on EU Policies and Volunteering: Recognising and Promoting Cross-border Activities in the EU:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/reding/pdf/news/20110920_en.pdf

Official website for the European Year of Volunteering 2011:

http://europa.eu/volunteering/

Homepage of Viviane Reding, Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/reding/index_en.htm

Commission announcement about the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps:

IP/10/1543

Commission announcement about 'Youth on the Move', including the European Skills Passport:

IP/10/1124

Link to Europass:

http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/

Contacts :

Matthew Newman (+32 2 296 24 06)

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)


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