Tuesday

13th Nov 2018

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

News in Brief

  1. UK seeks swift use of new EU chemical weapons blacklist
  2. Barnier briefs EU ministers: intense negotiations continue
  3. Romanian minister preparing EU presidency steps down
  4. Finland says Russia possibly behind GPS jamming
  5. German AfD leader under fire for Swiss campaign funding
  6. Seehofer announces he will step down as CSU party leader
  7. EU condemns elections in Russia-occupied eastern Ukraine
  8. German Greens pick two top candidates for EU election

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  2. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  3. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  4. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials
  5. Liberals ally with Macron for election, but no candidate yet
  6. Revealed: Link between MEPs CO2 votes and domestic car jobs
  7. All Quiet on the Eastern Front?
  8. Merkel and Brexit in spotlight This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us