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MEPs raise concerns over EU Solidarity Corps funded at expense of Erasmus+

In a resolution passed end-March, members of the European Parliament‘s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) spoke out on the need for the recently initiated European Solidarity Corps (ESC) to receive its own budget line and to divert plans of funding the initiative at the expense of Erasmus+ or Europe for Citizens programmes.

The European Commission (EC) launched the European Solidarity Corps in December 2016, with the aim to support around 100 000 young people by 2020 in gaining valuable volunteering or job placement experience in or outside their country,  in key areas ranging from education to health, integration of migrants and environmentalism. With the ESC kicking off in early 2017, the EC announced plans to draw necessary funds for the first phase from existing funding sources. Among a long list of programmes that are to make room in their budget, the EC is looking to reassign about EUR 58 million originally allocated to Erasmus+. A comprehensive legislative proposal, creating a dedicated legal base for the European Solidarity Corps, is expected to be presented by the European Commission in May 2017.  The resolution presented by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) clearly calls for the new initiative to receive its stand-alone budget line as ‘new ideas need fresh money’. 

Furthermore, the resolution points out to the need of drawing a clear line between volunteering activities and job placements, to mitigate against the potential exploitation of young people as unpaid labour when in fact quality jobs are at reach.  The document also emphasises the need to avoid duplication of existing volunteering programmes and to achieve a match between an initially high level of interest since the launch of the ESC website and the actual availability of opportunities for young people.

The European Commission has engaged in targeted consultations with core stakeholders including MEPs, Council representatives, youth organisations and national Erasmus+ agencies, as well as launched a public consultation to back the impending legislative proposal on the future shape of the European Solidarity Corps.

European Parliament – Press release