The European Solidarity Corps, which supports young people engaging in social and voluntary projects, celebrated its third anniversary on Saturday, 14 September.
Since the European Solidarity Corps was established by then-European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2016, more than 161,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 30 have joined the corps; conducting volunteer activities, benefiting from training and establishing their own solidarity projects. The numbers have far exceeded Juncker’s initial ambition: announcing the establishment of the corps in his 2016 State of the Union address, the President said: “I want this European Solidarity Corps up and running by the end of the year; and by 2020, to see the first 100,000 young Europeans taking part.”
Projects undertaken through the European Solidarity Corps include:
- A voluntary scheme to clear paths and plant trees in Greek forests;
- An organic garden and ‘ecovillage’ in Sweden, designed to help participants learn about biodiversity and the climate emergency; and
- A social enterprise café in Latvia, employing young people with disabilities with a view to helping them integrate into the labour market.
The corps reserves a third of its activities for disadvantaged participants, including young people with disabilities or special educational needs; low income individuals; and people who are socially or geographically disadvantaged. The European Solidarity Corps is projected to create ‘tens of thousands’ of opportunities in the coming months in fields including youth work; inclusivity; sustainability; and education.
Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “We have achieved a lot in the last three years. In record time we put in place a new programme opening up opportunities for young people and organisations to support others, helping us build a more cohesive, caring society. I am proud to see so many young people eager to get involved and active in projects on the ground. Their enthusiasm is truly inspiring. This is why I have proposed to extend and strengthen the European Solidarity Corps after 2020.”