26 November 2003
International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2003 at the European Parliament in Brussels featured a lively round table discussion in which leaders from European volunteer agencies called for more legislative support from the European Union. The debate, entitled "Social and Economic Development: the Contribution of Volunteers and Volunteerism" in front of a full house, gave politicians and leaders of European volunteer organizations the opportunity to exchange ideas on how best to promote volunteerism.
Jenny Winter, Chief Executive Officer of The Barretstown Gang Camp, in Kildare, Ireland, which gives children with cancer, an adventure at Barretstown Castle, spoke about corporate volunteering, while European Members of Parliament (MEPs) Richard Howitt and Lissy Groener along with Jens Mester of the European Commission shared ideas on how to implement a more systematic evaluation of volunteers’ contribution to society.
William Andrianasolo, chief of the Research and Development section of the UN Volunteers (UNV) programme, said: "What can’t be measured are the intangibles such as how trust and solidarity are enhanced among people. A supportive environment for volunteerism needs to be fostered through increased awareness in society and recognition of volunteer contributions," he added.
Olga Sozanská, Vice President of the European Volunteer Centre (CEV) chaired the panel discussion that also heard several calls for legislative support from EU member states. Ms. Sozanská expressed her appreciation that not just representatives from all current EU member nations were present at the debate, but also officials from several countries that are scheduled to join the European Union in 2004.