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European Commission - Press release
The pilot European Volunteers Corps is launched
Brussels, 17 June 2011 – The European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid is one big step closer to reality - its pilot phase was launched in Budapest today, at a conference organised by the European Commission and the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union. Inspired by the vision for the Corps set out in the Treaty of Lisbon, building on a thorough review of existing volunteering schemes, and taking into account stakeholders’ recommendations, the European Commission is now starting the practical implementation of the initiative - by selecting, training and deploying the first team of European humanitarian volunteers.
In the pilot phase, the first European humanitarian volunteers will undergo extensive training, which will allow them and the Corps to develop the right toolbox of skills to effectively assist communities in humanitarian risk, while fostering local capacities among aid-receiving communities. Later in 2011, the volunteers will start working in third countries through three pilot projects (see MEMO/11/413).
European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva said: "The pilot projects will give us a clear blueprint to move forward. We have two goals - first, to create an exciting opportunity for Europeans to make a difference in the world, and second, to bring collective value to individuals’ willingness to volunteer in the humanitarian area. I am excited that the European citizens’ solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable people will now have its first ambassadors - our volunteers”.
The pilot projects aim to test the ideas and concepts explored in the course of public consultations: how can European volunteers best complement the NGOs' work, and how can they bring real value to the people who rely on Europe’s solidarity around the world?
Security has been the top priority in the design of pilot projects, and the choice of settings in which to deploy volunteers. Security is also the underlying principle for the future full-fledged European Humanitarian Corps.
The way ahead - charted through open public consultations
In two rounds of public consultations, the Commission gathered valuable input from over a hundred humanitarian professionals and stakeholders. Over 80% of respondents in the consultations indicated that the Corps would make a positive contribution to humanitarian aid. According to respondents, European volunteers could make the biggest difference in local capacity building, back-office support and the use of new instruments, such as online volunteering. Participants in the consultations credited the future Corps with trust in its high potential to boost volunteers’ professionalism and safety, as well as the coordination and coherence in humanitarian aid.
The next steps
The pilot projects will test various options for the Voluntary Corps’s work and impact, with the best ones to be taken on board for the full-fledged body. Building on the pilots, and in line with the mandate enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon1, Commissioner Georgieva will propose EU legislation in 2012, which will define the structure of the future European Humanitarian Voluntary Corps and its role in the humanitarian framework.
For more information
Commissioner Georgieva's website:
The European Commission's humanitarian aid:
Article 214.5: "In order to establish a framework for joint contributions from young Europeans to the humanitarian aid operations of the Union, a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps shall be set-up."