The creation of a European Solidarity Corps was announced by President Juncker the during his State of the Union speech.
The European Solidarity Corps has been conceived to offer people under 30 in Europe the chance to support a non-governmental organisation (NGO), local authority or private company active in addressing challenging situations across the European Union – for instance: rebuilding communities following natural disasters; addressing social challenges such as social exclusion, poverty, health and demographic challenges; or working on the reception and integration of refugees.
By joining the Corps, participants will express their commitment and willingness to devote a period of their lives to helping others. By supporting others, young people will not only put the core EU value of solidarity into practice, but also acquire skills and experience, including language skills, that can be valuable when looking for a job or considering further education and training.
The European Solidarity Corps will be set up as soon as possible with the aim of getting 100,000 young people signed up to the Corps by 2020.
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. But I also know that solidarity must be given voluntarily. It must come from the heart. It cannot be forced.
How will this work and when will it be set up?
The Corps will build on existing EU professional and volunteering programmes for youth, as well as the mobilisation of established networks of employment, education and civil society actors across Europe. We will develop the scheme in close partnership with Member States, local authorities and NGO's.
Candidates wanting to join the Corps, and entities willing to call on members, will be able to do so via one single entry point: a dedicated European Solidarity Corps web-portal.
Placements will last between two months and a year. For a job placement, the minimum period will be four months.
Who can join and what are the criteria?
Any person in Europe under 30, regardless of their backgrounds and whether currently in education, training, employed or unemployed, is welcome to join the Corps. Placements should be available for a large variety of profiles, from school leavers to higher education graduates who may already have experience in the workplace.
What kind of activities will European Solidarity Corps members be involved in?
Members of the European Solidarity Corps can take part in any kind of activity related to disaster preparedness and long-term response, as well as activities addressing social challenges, such as social exclusion, poverty, health and demographic challenges, or activities aiming at tackling the refugee crisis.
The scheme could for instance support the development of social, health care and rehabilitation services, for people at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
Which organisations can participate?
NGOs, local authorities or private companies active in addressing challenging situations can use the portal to contact and recruit members of the Corps.
All organisations involved in volunteering activities need to hold a valid accreditation which guarantees their compliance with the European Volunteering Scheme (EVS) Charter to ensure they abide by the necessary quality standards
Will participants be paid?
If the person is recruited as regular employee, a trainee or an apprentice in another Member State, the person will receive a salary (for a job contract) and/or an allowance (for a training or apprenticeship) to cover living and travel costs that can be financially supported, for instance, by the Youth Guarantee scheme.
If the person is going as a volunteer, the essential costs of volunteers' participation (i.e. food, lodging, travel costs) are covered through the grant given to the organisation through the European Voluntary Scheme. He or she will also receive pocket money, the amount of which will be depending on the country of service. Furthermore, all volunteers will be covered by the obligatory EVS group insurance set up by the scheme.
How will this initiative be financed?
Financial costs linked to cross-border mobility and subsistence abroad will be largely covered by EU support, under already existing structures such as the European Voluntary Service and the Youth Guarantee Scheme.
Cover Photo: FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images