The Commission has launched the first call for proposals under the new European Solidarity Corps 2021-2027 on 15 April. The European Solidarity Corps supports young people wishing to engage in volunteering activities in a variety of areas ranging from helping people in need to supporting health and environmental action, across the EU and beyond. This year's priority will be health and will mobilise volunteers to work on projects addressing health challenges, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and recovery.
With a dedicated budget of over €1 billion for 2021-2027, the new programme offers opportunities to some 275,000 young people to help address societal and humanitarian challenges through volunteering or by setting up their own solidarity projects. For the first year of action, more than €138 million are available. As of next year, the programme will also allow young people to volunteer in humanitarian aid activities worldwide, thus helping to tackle humanitarian challenges in safe third countries, supporting EU aid activities there.
Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Solidarity is at the core of the European project, both within our Union and with our partners around the world. Our European way of life is one that shows our younger generations that we are stronger together. This is what they have experienced, and what they can share through the opportunities offered by the European Solidarity Corps. With volunteering at its heart, this programme engages and empowers young people to be active in society, faithful to our values and become true change-makers.”
Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “Young people have a lot to give to society. At an age when everything seems possible, we want to encourage them to be active, to show solidarity and share their time, commitment and passion for the causes they care about. Being part of European Solidarity Corps is also an invaluable occasion to gain experience and develop new skills. This year, with a special focus on activities and projects in the area of health prevention and support, we hope to also mobilise volunteers in our joint efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The new European Solidarity Corps supports overarching EU political priorities, facilitating organisations and young people to address them. Four strands are particularly highlighted:
Promoting of inclusion and diversity;
Making projects ‘greener' and encouraging environmentally sustainable and responsible behaviour among participants and participating organisations;
Supporting the digital transition through projects and activities that boost digital skills, foster digital literacy and develop understanding of the risks and opportunities of digital technology;
Promoting participation of young people in democratic processes and civic engagement.
In addition to these four areas of engagement, the programme will have the flexibility to add annual priorities, to address pressing issues – such as health, this year.
In order to take part in the European Solidarity Corps, organisations need to obtain a quality label, which certifies that they carry out high quality solidarity activities in compliance with the principles, objectives and requirements of the programme. Any public or private body may apply for funding, with the help of the European Solidarity Corps National Agencies based in all EU Member States and non-EU countries associated to the programme - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Turkey and the Republic of North Macedonia. In addition, groups of young people registered in the European Solidarity Corps Portal may directly apply for funding for solidarity projects developed and led by them.
The application period for both calls under the new 2021-2027 programme opens on 15 April, and ends on 5 October 2021. Applications for the quality label for solidarity volunteering can be submitted anytime. The deadline to apply for the quality label for humanitarian aid volunteering is 22 September 2021.
Promoting a sense of solidarity among the youth is crucial for the future of not only the European Union and its Member States but for the world. For this purpose, ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network) welcomes the call for proposals made by Commissioners Gabriel and Schinas. We will assist our partners who wish to participate in the European Solidarity Corps.
Launched in December 2016, the European Solidarity Corps exists as an EU-funded programme since October 2018, with an operating budget of €375.6 million for 2018-2020. Volunteering gives young people from 18 to 30 years old (up to 35 for humanitarian activities), the opportunity to contribute to the daily work of organisations that specialise in activities benefiting communities.
So far, 275,000 young people have joined the European Solidarity Corps, and some 50,000 participants have started their activities. Based on the success of the initiative, the European Solidarity Corps continues its activities for 2021-2027 and extends them to volunteering in the field of EU humanitarian aid.
Volunteering projects offer opportunities for young people to take part in solidarity activities and help to address identified needs within local communities. Volunteering may take place in a country other than the country of residence of the participant (cross-border) or in the country of residence of the participant (in-country). Young people can volunteer individually or in teams, and activities can last up to 12 months.
The quality label is a process that certifies that an organisation is willing and able to carry out high quality solidarity activities in compliance with the principles, objectives and quality standards of the European Solidarity Corps. Obtaining a quality label is a precondition for participation in volunteering activities.
A solidarity project is a non-profit solidarity activity initiated, developed and implemented by young people themselves for a period from 2 to 12 months. Solidarity projects should address key challenges within the communities.
Source: European Commission