28 March 2006
The European Volunteer Centre (CEV)
launches today its new "Manifesto on Volunteering in Europe" in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belguim.
The new Manifesto explains why volunteering matters and how volunteering contributes to the European Union's (EU) actions in different fields such as "promoting a socially cohesive society, fostering meaningful learning policy or the development of an active European citizenship". More than 100 million Europeans are engage in a variety of tasks as volunteers, working to protect the environment, support marginalized groups of society, provide catastrophe relief and protect citizens.
"Volunteering while freely given is not cost free! For volunteering to be effective and accessible to all, we need a targeted volunteering infrastructure supported by all stakeholders. While we have seen progress in some Member States, much still remains to be done - especially at European level. We still do not have an EU Policy on Volunteering; there is no single access point for volunteering either in the Commission or in the European Parliament; and, despite its huge contribution, volunteering is still mainly invisible in national and European statistics," says Christopher Spence, President of CEV.
CEV proposes 23 concrete actions on how representatives of the EU institutions can give recognition, promote and facilitate volunteering as an expression of Active European Citizenship in the EU - including the call for a European Year of Active Citizenship through Volunteering. "There are more than 100 million people throughout Europe -- this is a huge reservoir of active citizens - a source the EU can tap into to build an 'Active European Citizenship' adding a European dimension to their engagement at local level," states Markus Held, CEV Director.
Underlining the added value of a common effort of different stakeholders, Celia Moore from IBM Corporate Community Relations and CSR Europe Vice Chair of the Board adds: "Business volunteers bring a wide range of skills to support and strengthen local communities. Partnerships between business and volunteer organisations add value by targeting and matching needs and resources."
Since the first version of the Manifesto on Volunteering in Europe published in 2003 the political landscape in the EU has changed. CEV welcomed 10 new Member States; Eurofestation, a major volunteering event held in Maastricht last 2004, has proposed in its ROADMAP 2010, provided concrete steps for how different stakeholders such as volunteer organizations, the corporate sector and governments can work together promote volunteering; the European Commission has acknowledged the role of volunteering in its proposal for a new Active Citizenship Programme and the United Kingdom has celebrated a very successful Year of the Volunteer in 2005.
The event is hosted by MEP Jo Leinen at the European Parliament and will be attended by CEV member organizations, members of European institutions, representatives from national governments, the business sector and volunteers.