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European Voluntary Service: citizenship and intercultural dialogue in moving
05 December 2002

Brussels: On the occasion of the International Volunteer Day each 5th December as decided in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly hereafter are some facts on the European Voluntary Service (EVS), which is an Action of the YOUTH programme (2000-2006) .

3,500 young volunteers per year to go abroad with EVS

EVS, first set up as a pilot programme in 1996, is part of the YOUTH programme (2000-2006) and is equipped with about 25 million Euro per year. Each year it allows almost 3,500 young people from the participating countries to spend between 6 and 12 months abroad. Participating countries include the EU member states, candidate countries and EEE countries, as well as third countries in South East Europe, the CIS, the Mediterranean Area and Latin America.

EVS offers to the young (18 25 year old) volunteers a non-formal, intercultural learning experience in a large variety of fields (social, cultural, environmental, sport, etc.). EVS projects are usually of an individual nature and comprise only one or a few volunteers. But EVS also funds larger projects with up to 60 volunteers.

An important target group under EVS is young people with fewer opportunities, who due to socio-economic, health or geographic reasons would normally not have the possibility to participate in transnational voluntary activities.

Every volunteer is entitled to an EVS certificate in order to facilitate the recognition of his / her experience. EVS volunteers receive food and accommodation, insurance cover and an allowance (pocket money) whose level depends on the host country (200 Euro in average).

EVS is recognised as a high quality standard, notably because it ensures that every single volunteer receives adequate training, including linguistic one, and personal support throughout the project.

EVS - YOUTH Current developments

  • Since 2002, the Commission strongly encourages cross-border co-operation between EU member states and the neighboring pre-accession countries under the YOUTH programme. The budget authority has made available additional 10 million Euro for this.
  • EVS volunteers help with the organisation and implementation of activities in the framework of European Capitals of Culture: EVS volunteers from different participating countries are in Brugge this year and will be in Graz in 2003.
  • A new concept of collective voluntary work at major sports events has been launched by the Commission, while maintaining the fundamental principles of EVS and especially the balance between service and learning. The Special Olympic Summer Games for mentally disabled athletes in Ireland in June 2003 and the Olympic Summer Games in Athens 2004 will see the first application of this concept and receive approx. 200 EVS volunteers.
  • The Commission has proposed in October 2002 a directive, which will lead to the definition of common entry conditions for third country volunteers coming to the EU by 2005.
  • In 2002 a project called the "Volunteers' Odyssee" (L'Odyssée du Volontariat) has enabled 7 teams of young voluntary reporters to visit and film 49 different voluntary sites in the whole world, among them seven EVS projects. The aim of the project is to promote the concept of volunteering by means of a young, fresh and innovative approach. The project receives 80.000 Euro EC-funding and currently is disseminated among and broadcast by interested TV stations in the whole world.

White paper "Youth" and voluntary service

The White paper on Youth, adopted by the European Commission in November 2001 (see IP/01/1619 of 21 November 2001) contains voluntary service among young people as a thematic priority. This priority aims at improving the framework conditions for voluntary service, at removing mobility obstacles, and at increasing voluntary service among young people at all levels. This priority will be treated among EU Member States throughout 2003 in the Method of Open Coordination in order to define and implement common objectives.

Useful links

A volunteers' web forum and an Internet database containing several thousands of approved host organisations in Europe can be found under: www.sosforevs.org.

For further information please visit the website of the YOUTH programme and the National YOUTH Agencies under: europa.eu.int/comm/education/youth.html

or contact the SOS Volunteer Helpdesk: volunteers@socleoyouth.be