The European Solidarity Corps Stakeholder Forum

April 12, 2017
On 12 April the European Commission organised a Stakeholder Forum for the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) in Brussels. It gathered 700 participants from all Europe. The European Solidarity Corps is the new European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe. The ESC aims to provide accessible opportunities for young people to express their solidarity through volunteering, a traineeship or a job responding to concrete societal challenges, to build a more inclusive society supporting vulnerable people. It offers an inspiring and empowering experience for young people who want to help, learn and develop. Many young people are keen to express their solidarity, but not all have this opportunity because the demands exceed the current possibilities on offers and enhanced opportunities could be provided.

The ESC was launched in December 2016, it is taking shape. The Commission arranged a public consultation and targeted consultations with stakeholders to gather views and suggestions on features of the upcoming legislative proposal. The feedback from young people, organisations, civil society and national authorities received a largely positive welcoming that the ESC will provide more opportunities for young people. The need for a flexible and inclusive approach was underscored as well as the wish to complement and enhance existing schemes.
The upcoming legislative proposal for the ESC will consolidate the current first phase that builds on existing financing programmes. It will include a dedicated budget and lay the basis for a robust roll-out in order to allow 100.000 young people to take part by the end of 2020. A positive signal for the success of the initiative is that 27000 young people have already registered!

The opening adresses were held in the plenary session by Günther ÖTTINGER, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources; Tibor NAVRACSICS, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport; Markkun MARKKULA, President of the European Committee of the Regions; Petra KAMMEREVERT, President of the European Parliament Committee for Culture and Education; Evarist BARTOLO, Minister for Education and Employment of Malta; Luis Alvarado MARTINEZ, President of the European Youth Forum.
All of them stressed in their respective qualities and responsibilities that solidarity of young people to young people is an added value, because Europe means neighbourhood, friendship, partnership. ESC is meant to develop a peace and solidarity spirit through projects based on life competences. The role of education was underlined: ESC should enable young people to know about themselves and others, to do things together, to be better persons, to live together. Tangible and practical steps are needed to create a higher level of solidarity and for that fresh money will be there. More connection will be created between solidarity corps and local actors and of course collaboration with Parliament will be a key element to the success of this initiative.

Following themes were discussed in the three working groups:
- Making the European Solidarity Corps an attractive initiative for young people and organisations
- A lean and effective set up and governance for the initiative
- Supporting young people's employability and reaching the disadvantaged

In their final speech both President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude JUNCKER and President of the European Parliament, Antonio TAJANI stressed that Europe is more than a currency and a free market: it is a space of freedom and solidarity is one of its fundamental values. It is in our responsibility to offer the youth the opportunity of dreaming. Europe is our identity. After the Erasmus generation we will create the ESC generation. We have to explain Europe other than by war and peace. Europe has to learn to share and the Europe of tomorrow has to be at the service of the world of tomorrow. Georges DASSIS, President of the European Economic and Social Committee pointed out the need to stress that measures and programmes with social orientations occur under the European label in order to counteract populist ideas that Europe is just a bureaucratic machine. If there is an added value in terms of experience and training in terms of citizenship and work, if it is properly validated, it will contribute to peace, stability, economical and social progress and there will be a new generation that will feel European!
The last word was given to Cyril DION, writer, film director and producer of the film « Demain », a speech full of hope in which he stressed the need to reconcile the call to be happy with the call to be useful. It’s a gift for young people to engage in something that makes sense. Talent and passion are necessary to change the world, to set energy and enthusiasm free!
The programme
The European Solidarity Corps on the European Youth portal