Saturday

21st Oct 2017

Focus

EU 'rebrands' youth corps

  • The EU commission aims to have 100,000 volunteers in the scheme by 2020. (Photo: Ruben Bos)

Five months after its official launch in December 2016, the European Commission presented the budget proposal and legal base on Tuesday (30 May) for the European Solidarity Corps.

The new scheme – announced by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in his state of the union address last September – aims to get young unemployed people into volunteering activities or traineeships that “promote solidarity” in their own countries or abroad.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Up to now, the EU solidarity corps have built on existing EU funding and mobility programmes, such as Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens or the programme for Employment and Social Innovation.

For this "second phase", the EU executive plans to allocate €341 million from 2018 to 2020 to the scheme – with 80 percent dedicated to volunteering activities and the remaining 20 percent to job placements.

“Re-branding” of existing programmes

From youth organisations to the European Parliament’s committee on culture and education, many feared that the new solidarity corps would take funding from these already existing programmes, and instead demanded “fresh money” for the corps.

However, the EU solidarity corps is now set to replace the European Voluntary Service (EVS), a 20-year-old mobility programme made for young people to volunteer in another EU or neighbouring country.

“The EU solidarity corps will now cover the 28 EU member states,” whereas the European Voluntary Service will survive for activities and projects in the EU’s neighbourhood, announced EU commissioner Tibor Navracsics before Tuesday's EU parliament committee meeting on culture and education.

Therefore, funding from the existing EVS in the EU member states will cease to exist at the expense the corps’ activities. This prompted MEP Sabine Verheyen to call the proposal a “re-branding” of existing programmes to “boost [volunteering activities’] visibility,” rather than a completely new idea.

According to Navracsics, the EU solidarity corps will be “an EVS+”, with more funding available and a new “one-stop shop” portal.

“We have to admit that the European Voluntary Service has not been very successful”, the commissioner added, as only 100,000 people have volunteered in 20 years – which is the same amount the EU commission aims to reach by 2020 with the solidarity corps.

However, while 30,000 people have subscribed to the EU solidarity corps’ database since December 2016, only around 112 employers have looked for participants so far.

Most applicants from southern Europe

Any young adult looking for a traineeship or volunteering experience can register for a “match-making portal” of volunteers and organisations – with no formal education or language requirements.

After that, it is up to the companies and organisations to make offers and contact candidates, according to the skills and profile they are looking for.

The EU commission sees the solidarity corps as a yet another way to tackle Europe’s youth unemployment problems, by providing placements for young people.

Unemployment rates are decreasing slowly in the EU, but 48 percent of under-25s in Greece remain unemployed, followed by 41.5 percent in Spain and 36.7 percent in Italy.

And it is Italy – followed by Spain and Portugal – that tops the ranking of registrations for the EU solidarity corps so far.

While southern Europe’s youth seems to be mostly enthusiastic about it, some have raised their concerns that the corps’ mobility component could lead to an even bigger brain drain, whereby young people leave to pursue education and work elsewhere.

So, to address this concern, the EU executive will also allow members of the programme to participate in projects in their own countries.

Not a 'fake solution' to unemployment

The European Youth Forum said, in a previous statement, that the solidarity corps’ occupational strand should not be a “fake solution” to tackle youth unemployment. It should also not create “precarious [working] conditions”.

The traineeships will be subject to the labour laws of the host country, and projects must follow a strict set of quality criteria.

“We don’t want to compete with the ordinary labour market; we don’t want people to cut ordinary jobs to replace those by volunteers”, said Guenther Oettinger, the EU budget commissioner.

The EU commission hopes the parliament and the council will adopt the proposal by January 2018 – a hope that comes under heavy “time pressure,” according to centre-left MEP Petra Kammerevert, the parliament’s culture committee chair.

Data hole in EU plan for youth jobs

EU commission wants to spend another €2 billion on creating jobs for young people, but lack of data on who gets what from the scheme poses questions.

Magazine

Europe's rare youthful villages

Some villages in the EU are bucking the trend by attracting young people. But unless there is outside funding and local action, Europe's countryside will be full of ghosts.

EU states must act on youth poverty

Campaigners say young Europeans need better quality jobs and contracts, after a UN agency documents how hundreds of thousands of young workers risk living in poverty.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  2. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving up to 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  5. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  9. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  10. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  11. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  12. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  3. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  4. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  5. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  6. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  7. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  11. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups