This will help consolidate the initiative and create more opportunities for young people. As well as offering volunteering, traineeships and job placements, the European Solidarity Corps will now also provide participants the opportunity to set up their own solidarity projects or to volunteer as a group.
During a first phase launched in December 2016, eight different programmes were mobilised to offer volunteering, traineeship or job opportunities under the European Solidarity Corps. More than 30,000 young people have already signed up and the first participants have now started their placements. Under the leadership of Commissioners Oettinger, Navracsics and Thyssen, the Commission is today proposing to equip the European Solidarity Corps with one single legal base, its own financing mechanism and a broader set of solidarity activities. This will help further increase its coherence, impact and cost-effectiveness. The Commission proposes to allocate €341.5 million to the European Solidarity Corps over the period 2018-2020, to enable 100,000 young Europeans to take part by the end of 2020.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "More than just a principle, solidarity is a state of mind that goes to the very heart of what the European Union is about. The Solidarity Corps is that principle personified. I am proud of what the Corps represents and grateful to all those signing up and the organisations providing placements for our young people. Today we are giving a proper legal form to the Corps, along with the budget to sustain it. The participants on the ground are the ones giving the Corps – and European solidarity – life."
For the next phase of the European Solidarity Corps, the following types of activities are envisaged:
- Solidarity placements will support young people in carrying out volunteering activities for up to 12 months, traineeship placements for usually 2–6 months, and job placements in compliance with relevant national legislation for 2–12 months.
- Volunteering teams will allow groups of 10-40 young volunteers from different countries to make an impact together, for 2 weeks to 2 months.
- Solidarity projects will allow small groups of at least five participants to set up and implement solidarity projects at the local level on their own initiative, for 2 to 12 months.
- Networking activities will help attract newcomers to the European Solidarity Corps, allow the exchange of good practices, provide post-placement support and establish alumni networks.
All of these actions will give young people across Europe new opportunities to engage in solidarity activities addressing societal challenges and strengthening communities. In parallel, they will help improve the skills and competences young people need for their own personal and professional development at the beginning of their careers. The European Solidarity Corps is an inclusive initiative. Targeted measures, such as additional funding or placements of shorter duration, will promote the participation of disadvantaged young people.
Any public or private body adhering to strict quality requirements can propose projects for the European Solidarity Corps. It will be implemented by the European Commission, the Erasmus+ National Agencies in the Member States, and the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). To improve the integration of European Solidarity Corps participants in the labour market, the active involvement of Public Employment Services, private employment services and Chambers of Commerce will be encouraged.
With today's proposal, the Commission is delivering on its promise made when launching the European Solidarity Corps to present a legal proposal by spring 2017. The draft Regulation now needs to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council before it can enter into force. In their Joint Declaration, the EU institutions committed to delivering on the proposal by the end of this year.
Also today, the Commission adopted two new initiatives on school and higher education, including a proposal on graduate tracking to help Member States collect information on what graduates do after their studies.
During his 2016 State of the Union address, Commission President Juncker announced the creation of a European Solidarity Corps, offering young people between the ages of 18 and 30 the opportunity to take part in a wide range of solidarity activities across the EU. Since its launch on 7 December 2016, more than 30,000 young people have joined the European Solidarity Corps. In March, matching with organisations began; since then, about 9000 participants have been contacted, around 110 offers were made, and the first participants started their placements.
To prepare its proposal, the Commission launched both an open online survey and targeted consultations with stakeholders, which concluded in a Stakeholder Forum. Stakeholders emphasised the importance of quality placements and participation of disadvantaged young people, the necessity to put in place a dedicated budget, appropriate communication and outreach measures and lean and effective governance structures, as well as the need to validate the skills acquired in complementarity with initiatives at national level.
This proposal comes at the time of celebrating the 30th anniversary of Erasmus, one of the most successful programmes of the EU. What started as a modest higher education exchange programme, today offers under the name Erasmus+ a wide range of learning opportunities in higher education, vocational education and training, school education, adult education, youth and sport.
For more information
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the legal framework of the European Solidarity Corps and amending Regulations (EU) No 1288/2013, (EU) No 1293/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1305/2013, (EU) No 1306/2013 and Decision No 1313/2013/EU
Follow Commissioner Oettinger on Twitter
Follow Commissioner Navracsics on Twitter