European Commision promotes cross-border volunteering

The European Commission announced plans to further improve the recognition and promotion of volunteering in the EU. In the context of European Year of Volunteering 2011, the Commission’s launched a Communication on EU Policies and Volunteering outlining a range of measures that will help foster voluntary activities in the EU, including the creation of a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps and the development of a ‘European Skills Passport’.

This is the first time the European Commission has adopted a policy document dedicated exclusively to volunteering.

Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, said: “There are 100 million volunteers in the EU today, who are helping to make Europe and the world a better place. The European Year of Volunteering 2011 highlights their achievements, encourages others to join in, and helps volunteers and volunteering organisations do even better.”

Volunteering activities directly contribute to the key objectives of EU policies such as social inclusion, employment, education, skills development and promotion of citizenship. However, there is no clear legal framework for volunteering activities and skills volunteers gain are often not sufficiently recognised. The Commission is committed to overcoming these obstacles to volunteering, particularly across borders.

Actions to promote volunteering at EU level
-The Commission has proposed to create a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps by 2012.
-Recognising skills gained through volunteering activities through a ‘European Skills Passport’. This will ensure recognition of professional qualifications across borders and will also give individuals the possibility of keeping a record of the skills and competences they acquire through volunteering. The passport will be based on the existing Europass (European online CV), to allow skills to be recorded in a transparent and comparable way.
-European Voluntary Service, which celebrates its fifteenth anniversary this year, will be build on and will further target volunteers in other policy areas.

The Commission has also outlined concrete ways for Member States to make better use of the potential of volunteering and calls for Member States to open national schemes for fostering cross-border volunteering.

For more information access the “Communication on EU Policies and Volunteering: Recognising and Promoting Cross-border Activities in the EU” on:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/reding/pdf/news/20110920_en.pdf