On March 12, the European Parliament adopted its position on the European Solidarity Corps (ESC), a new European Union initiative proposed by the European Commission that seeks to create opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in another EU country. However, it will now be possible for disadvantaged young people to take part in the programme also in their home country on projects that benefit communities and people around Europe.
Overall, the new proposal is built on and to a large extent incorporates the elements of the political agreement reached in June 2018 (adopted in plenary on 11 September 2018) while adding an extra ambition through an increased budget, extended scope and improving the functioning of the programme.
The programme will provide opportunities for over 350,000 participants between 2021 and 2027, and builds on the successful pilot launched in 2016. It aims to strengthen the spirit of solidarity among participants and encourage them to continue expressing their solidarity throughout their entire lives.
The overall budget available for the implementation of the European Solidarity Corps is set at €1.3 billion for the period 2021-2027. 86% of the budget for activities will be dedicated to volunteering, the rest for jobs and traineeships and volunteering in humanitarian aid.
The text drafted by Michaela Šojdrová (EPP, CS) explains that “in response to the clear demand to do more for young people, the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement in June 2018 (adopted in plenary on 11 September 2018) establishing a European Solidarity Corps merging several EU volunteering and solidarity traineeships/jobs schemes into one single programme acting as a "one stop shop" for all solidarity related opportunities for young people.” The text was adopted by 513 to 95 against, with 64 abstentions.
As for next steps, the final text must be negotiated and agreed with the Council under the next parliamentary term.
The European Solidarity Corps was announced in the State of the Union speech of 14 September 2016 in the framework of New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investments. The aim is to build a sense of belonging to the European project through the spirit of solidarity and to improve job prospects. The legislative proposal was published on 30 May 2017.