During its current mandate, The European Parliament has played an important role in scrutinizing the work of the Commission in relation to volunteering through producing evidence based assessments of active volunteering initiatives. It has used these reports to call for improvements to the EU’s volunteering policy and volunteering initiatives to increase the uptake and impact of volunteering across Europe.
The European Parliament has closely followed the implementation of the EU funding programme dedicated to education, training, youth and sport, Erasmus +, which was launched in 2014.
Barriers to cross-border volunteering
In 2015 The European Parliamentary Research Service carried out an analysis of cross-border volunteering and concluded that the costs associated with barriers to cross-border volunteering amount to an estimated average of around €65 million per year.
The European Solidarity Corps (ESC)
In October 2016 The Policy Department for Structural Cohesion Policies produced an assessment of the legislative proposal for the establishment of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) on the request of the Committee on Culture and Education.
The work of the European Parliament during this mandate has played an important role in monitoring various volunteering initiatives and related policy, and calling for improvements and increased allocation of resources to make volunteering more accessible and impactful for European citizens. However to ensure that substantive changes are made, the Parliament needs to exert increased pressure on the commission in a few key areas. The Parliament must encourage Member states and the Commission to set up a single point of contact in the form of a service with responsibility for volunteering policy and coordination between the Commission and various institutions. At present this responsibility is shared between several DGs including the including DG Education and Culture and DG European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Furthermore the Parliament must do more to highlight the need for a European legal framework for volunteering as this would contribute to a more equal treatment of volunteers, enhancing their mobility within the EU.
Finally the Parliament should set up a European Parliament Volunteering Intergroup. The establishment of this intergroup is necessary to support an on-going commitment of the European Parliament towards the further development of a comprehensive EU agenda on volunteering and to foster citizens and civil society organizations’ involvement in democratic life in Europe.