Stakeholders Forum of European Solidarity Corps

Posted by projects on May 02

On 12th April SCI was present at The European Solidarity Corps Stakeholder Forum held in Brussels. Besides from Martina, one of our EVS volunteers at International Secretariat of SCI, Godele the new coordinator of VIA, the Flemish branch SCI, Chiara from IVS GB and Ivana from Volonterski Center Zagreb, SCI’s branch of Croatia also attended.
European Solidarity Corps Stakeholder Forum, 12 April 2017. Brussels. Photo Credit: Martina Pieri

The meeting opened with a plenary session with Gunther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, who presented  two important pillars: one on the legislative base that will guarantee the existence and the support to European Solidarity Corps; the Commission is working on a legislative proposal which they want to present to the Parliament in the end of May; and the second was the finance base, for the next 4 years there will be 114 million per year for the European Solidarity Corps, ensuring everyone that the funds for Erasmus+will not be cut or reduced. “From 2021 the European Solidarity Corps will have a proper and personal finance. So until the 2020 the main stability of this program will be the legislative one, and then also the finance one. Then the word was taken by Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport, who reminded everyone that already 27.000 young people have registered on the European Solidarity Corps database and also highlighted the importance of the presence of more than 4000 ngo’s registered for hosting and sending EVS volunteers, and asking them to give the possibility to place all these young people. He also reminded everyone that the European Solidarity Corps is not an aim, but a tool for young people and for those communities who need some kind of help. Then Mark Markkula, the President of the European Committee of the regions, insisted on the importance to include in this project the young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and who have had difficulties to access till now opportunities  from other European Union funds. After Markkula, Petra Kammerevert the President of European Parliament Committee for Culture and Education spoke about how the European Solidarity Corps can be important for the community and to strengthen the European identity; she also highlighted the fact that the ESC has to be a voluntary work but not an exploit one. After a brief video from Evarist Bartolo, Minister for Education and Employment, Luis Alvarado Martinez, the President of the European Youth Forum, concluded the opening plenary thanking all the ngo and associations that in the past years had made possible the Erasmus+ programme and the mobility of so many young people; he added that this is the right direction for the European Union, to invest money, time and resources in youth and in what they can bring to the society.

After the plenary the were three different working groups, one on making the European Solidarity Corps an attractive initiative for young people and organizations. The points discussed included:

  • To make the European Solidarity Corps more attractive with short term projects, such as workcamps,as this is the first step to attract volunteers who after their experience may consider to another or a longer volunteering experience

  • The importance of opening the European Solidarity Corps both on a local and national level, this can be attractive for all those volunteers that wanted to access  volunteering but for different reasons did not want  an international experience;

  • To include  refugees and people from disadvantaged backgrounds, much more than the EVS programme has managed to do in 20 years;

  • To create  a good balance between benefits to the local community as well as to the volunteer. It’s important to support the volunteer once they come back, otherwise the experience is not sustainable and not a plus for those young people who decided to do it;

  • To create quick and easy access to the ESC projects, and not to let too much time pass between the community request and the answer.

A good, attractive offer, eventually, needs to be made via good communication at different levels and on different channels, including universities and schools; making sure it does not overlap with already existing opportunitiesand that it is able to identify the needs of a certain community and guarantee the sustainability of the local action.

 

The second group worked on the Governance of the European Solidarity Corps, pointing out different requests, such as:

 

  • the management of the various projects has to be decentralized to the different National Agencies;

  • the importance to maintain and support the infrastructure that deals with Erasmus+ fund - and not only - that already exists and has guarantee good volunteering exchange in the past years;

  • link to the previous point, the European Solidarity Corps has to build its governance on what is already existing, and not create a parallel programme;

  • as with group A, this group insists on matching the needs with the local community and preventing random actions outside of a specific framework;

  • eventually, the governance has to be built on local and European activities to guarantee the trans boundary activities.


 

The third group worked on the Sustainability of the European Solidarity Corps for young people, pointing out:

 

  • the importance of pre and post placement. Right now the European Solidarity Corps programme, lacks of a sending organization - as in the European Voluntary Service - this has to be re-thought in order to ensure the pre-departure training, mentoring during the project, the recognition and certification as well as career guidance;

  • as the previous group  the third also highlighted the sustainability for the communities and the continuities of the action volunteer by volunteer;

  • the importance to include more youth with fewer opportunities the disadvantage group: giving individual support, engaging  NEET and promoting partnership at local level;

  • to promote decent work and guarantee the quality standard, a method to acquire competences and the right for the volunteer to learn and to be mentored.

 

In the final plenary the President of European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker reminded everyone present how  Solidarity today is much more important than ever, while the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani said: “The European Solidarity Corps is an instrument that allows young people to keep following  the dream. The European Solidarity Corps is the beautiful face of  Europe today”.

With all the information and requests  gathered from associations and civil society in the past months,  the European Commission will present a draft to the European Parliament at the end of May, to start to create a legislative base for the European Solidarity Corps.

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