European Solidarity Corps (ESC) Moves Forward
The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) is an initiative from European Union which provides opportunities for young people to volunteer and/or work in projects that benefit people and communities around Europe. The programme is offering volunteer and occupational activities that support non-governmental organisations, local authorities or private companies in addressing challenging situations across the European Union.
From European Voluntary Service (EVS) to European Solidarity Corps (ESC)
“I am particularly proud of the young Europeans (…) who are serving in our new European Solidarity Corps. They are bringing European solidarity to life.”
Since its launch in December 2016 to summer 2018 eight projects has been launched within the EU Solidarity Corps Programme. So far almost 60.000 young people have registered and almost 5.000 of them started a placement. European Council Press Release 27.06.2018
For a new programme, it would have been impossible to reach these numbers in such a short time. Thanks to the European Voluntary Service (EVS) and the effort of its involved actors, the Solidarity Corps does not have to start from scratch. The new programme will build on 20 years of experience and good practice of the EVS Programme. So, (hopefully) it will integrate some of his most important features:
- the access and support of young people with fewer opportunites to the new programme,
- the training and support system for volunteers and organisations,
- the non-formal learning approach, the possibility of learning and developing competences supported by the Youthpass,
- the system of accreditation and monitoring of organisations.
The European Solidarity Corps replaces the European Voluntary Service. It will become a seperate, independent programme, but for a transition period, volunteering activities will be carried out under the Erasmus+ Programme.
The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) Programme
“There are many young, socially-minded people in Europe willing to make a meaningful contribution to society and help show solidarity. […] I am convinced much more solidarity is needed.”
In his State of the Union Address (September 2016), Jean-Claude Juncker announced the creation of a new programme: the European Solidarity Corps (ESC). Similar to the US Peace Corps, the EU Solidarity Corps would offer young people in Europe the chance to volunteer (or work) in projects for the benefit of communities and people. They can actively support a non-governmental organisation (NGO), local authority or private company in addressing challenging situations across the European Union.
Since then, a lot of things happened and it seems that the new EU programme will change the scope of volunteer opportunities:
- the ESC will devote 90% of its resources to volunteering and solidarity projects and 10% for either traineeships and/or jobs, with a maximum of 20% set aside for in-country activities
- concerning the budget (€376.5 million) the ESC will be funded by 80% through redeployments principally under heading 1a of the budget and 20% through unallocated margins, i.e. fresh money. No additional funds will be deployed from the Erasmus+ programme
- the ESC portal – a single, easily accessible entry point to high quality volunteering and occupational solidarity placements for young people across the EU – will continue to play a central role
- solidarity activities will be able to be undertaken both outside the country of residence of the participants (cross-border) and in the country of residence of the participants (in-country) and will be for a period of three to twelve months
- particular emphasis will be put on inclusiveness and young people with fewer opportunities and their participation in the programme. In order to help them, even shorter placements will be foreseen
- the programme will be run together with a variety of participating organisations so as to increase the choice for young volunteers
EU Solidarity Corps: Volunteering and Employment Opportunities
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The European Solidarity Corps brings together young people to build a more inclusive society, supporting vulnerable people and responding to societal challenges. It offers an inspiring and empowering experience for young people who want to help, learn and develop.
EU Solidarity Corps Mission statement
The European Solidarity Corps has been launched in December 2016. It is an initiative from European Union which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer and/or work in projects that benefit communities and people around Europe.#volunteering and #occupational activities with EU Solidarity Corps | #voluntarywork #esc Click To Tweet The initiative offers two types of activities: volunteering and occupational activities. Volunteering activities are of full-time voluntary service between two and twelve months in another country. Occupational activities will provide young people with the opportunity of a traineeship or job in a wide range of sectors which are engaged in solidarity-related projects.
EU Solidarity Corps Topic Areas
A EU Solidarity Corps project could address certain topic areas (so called “types” of European Solidarity Corps projects):
- Reception and integration of refugees and migrants
- Citizenship and democratic participation
- Disaster prevention and recovery
- Environment and natural protection
- Health and well-being
- Education and training
- Employment and entrepreneurship
- Creativity and culture
EU Solidarity Corps Projects
Since the programme moves forward, the following projects and activities can be realised within the European Solidarity Corps:
Volunteering Projects provide volunteering opportunities for young people that respond to important societal needs and contribute to strengthening communities. The projects enable volunteers to acquire useful experience, skills and competences for their personal, educational, social, civic and professional development and improve their employability.
Within volunteering projects two types of activities can be realised: Individual volunteering activities and Volunteering Teams.
Individual volunteering activities
- individual volunteer activity
- cross-border or in-country
- from 2 to 12 months (or from 2 weeks to 2 months for young people with fewer opportunities)
- group volunteer activity (10 to 40 young volunteers)
- from at least two different countries
- from 2 weeks and 2 months
Young people aged 18-30 from an EU Member State, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Countries neighboring the EU. Any public or private organisation from an EU Member State can participate and submit applications.
Note: Organisations from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Countries neighboring the EU can participate as partners but can’t apply in 2018.
Volunteering Partnerships enable experienced volunteering organisations to develop and implement longer-term projects in order to enhance the quality and quantity of EU Solidarity Corps. Projects should strategically respond to important societal needs, contribute to strengthening communities while enabling young people to acquire useful experience, skills and competences for their personal, educational, social, civic and professional development, thereby improving their employability.
Volunteering Partnerships can implement the same activities as Volunteering Projects: Individual volunteering activities and Volunteering Teams.
Organisations from an EU Member State can apply to the National Agency of their country. IMPORTANT Deadline for applications: 13 September 2018 – 12:00 (midday Brussels time).
A solidarity project is an in-country solidarity activity initiated, developed and implemented by young people themselves. It gives young people the chance to express solidarity by taking responsibility and committing to bring positive change in their local community.
Participation in a solidarity project is an important non-formal learning experience through which young people can enhance their personal, educational, social and civic development. Solidarity Projects should be local but they should also clearly present European added value through addressing priorities identified at European level within the framework of the European Solidarity Corps.
Young people aged 18-30 from an EU Member State can apply for a solidarity project. A group of minimum five young people can carry out a local project for a period from two to twelve months.
Traineeships and Jobs
In the context of the European Solidarity Corps, traineeships and jobs
provide young people with opportunities for work practice or employment, helping them to
enhance their skills and experience thus facilitating their employability and transition into the labour market.
- full-time work practice
- from 3 to 12 months
- cross-border or in-country
- full-time work practice
- from 2 to 6 months
- cross-border or in-country
Young people aged 18-30 from an EU Member State. Any public or private organisation from an EU Member State can participate and submit applications.
EU Solidarity Corps Registration
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Participants who are taking part in Erasmus+ volunteer activities or would like to take part in EU Solidarity Corps must be registered on the platform of the EU Solidarity Corps And: Organisations of Programme countries must choose their volunteers from the EU Solidarity data base. Please check the Corrigendum to the 2018 Erasmus+ Programme Guide (15/12/2017) for more information!.
After registering at the European Youth Portal / ESC Registration, your profile details will be held in the European Solidarity Corps system. Organisations will be able to search the database for people for their projects and invite selected participants to join their projects.
Registration at the European Youth Portal: ESC Registration
EU Solidarity Corps: What’s next?
Now that the agreement has been confirmed by EU ambassadors on behalf of the Council, the regulation will be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading, and will subsequently go back to the Council for adoption.
The new rules will enter into force on the day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and will apply from 1 October 2018.