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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 19 September 2012

EU Aid Volunteers: Commission proposes new global humanitarian initiative

Today the European Commission set out its plans to develop a global initiative that will create opportunities for some 10,000 people from 2014-2020 to volunteer worldwide in humanitarian operations.

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative will provide a path for Europeans eager to help practically where help is most urgently needed. The number of natural and man-made disasters in the world has significantly increased over the last years and this trend is unfortunately likely to continue. Humanitarian organisations need more well-prepared people to support them helping communities struck by disasters.

Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response said: "We have here a unique possibility to send a positive signal in these times of crisis: Through their actions in the field and on the ground EU Aid Volunteers will demonstrate our European solidarity by helping those most in need. And they will at the same time learn invaluable skills. Saving lives is a life-changing experience that they will never forget. Volunteering has the overwhelming support of all our citizens throughout all our member states."

The Commission proposes to develop European standards for managing volunteers in humanitarian projects, and a training programme to prepare volunteers for deployment. Only well-prepared volunteers will have the possibility to be deployed as 'EU Aid Volunteers' in humanitarian projects.

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative will be implemented in close cooperation with humanitarian organisations that adhere to the standards and would need to be certified to become 'sending organisations'. These standards will notably include provisions for safety and security of the volunteers which is of paramount importance in humanitarian operations.

'EU Aid Volunteers' will be trained together in multinational groups and will also be able to spend some months in apprenticeship placements in a foreign country in Europe before going to the field. A network of 'EU Aid Volunteers' will be created that is expected to grow over the years into a unique pool of ambassadors for European solidarity.

Interested European citizens and long-term residents in the EU above 18 will be able to apply to become EU Aid Volunteers.

The proposal includes a budget of €239.1 million that would be used for an extensive training package (€58 million), deployment (€137 million), capacity building in communities hit by disasters (€35 million) and supporting activities.

Some 10,000 people will be deployed over the period 2014-2020. The scheme will also include training for 7,000 local staff and volunteers of organisations in countries hit by disasters. Through an online volunteering dimension another 10,000 people are expected to support the EU Aid Volunteers with tasks that can be done from home on a computer.

Background

The European Voluntary Corps is one of the innovations in the Treaty of Lisbon. Preparation of the scheme began in 2011 with wide public consultations, two waves of pilot projects and some 200 pilot volunteers already deployed. The Commission will use the lessons from these projects and work in close cooperation with humanitarian organisations to prepare the launch of EU Aid Volunteers in January 2014.

The creation of an EU voluntary corps in humanitarian aid also has the support of EU citizens – in a recent public opinion poll, carried out by Eurobarometer in all 27 Member States, 88% of respondents voiced support for an initiative which would allow for humanitarian aid volunteers from EU countries to be selected, trained and deployed to the field.

For more information

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

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

European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps website:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/euaidvolunteers

Eurobarometer: "Record number of Europeans support EU humanitarian aid in spite of hardship at home":

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/12/581&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Watch Commissioner Georgieva's announcement at the Daily Commission press briefing:

http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/schedule.cfm?page=1&date=09/19/2012&institution=0#108466

Contacts :

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)


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