Position statement of the Guild on the European Commission’s proposal for the European Solidarity Corps

In response to the call for feedback on the “Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL laying down the legal framework of the European Solidarity Corps” the Guild has issued a statement on behalf of its members with the aspects of the proposal that we consider to pose critical challenges to the quality of youth mobility through volunteering.

Here’s what we have to say about it:

The International Youth Work Trainers Guild (further – IYWT Guild) on behalf of its members is issuing a statement regarding the current state and the future of the European Voluntary Service (EVS) and the new entry of European Solidarity Corps (further – ESC).

In response to the European Commission’s proposal for laying down the legal framework of the European Solidarity Corps;
Taking into consideration the European Commission’s concept note – main actions implementing the European Solidarity Corps;
Based on the results of the European Commission’s study on the impact of transnational volunteering through the European Voluntary Service;

Following a consultative process with the our members, who mostly are training experts in the field of the Erasmus+ and European Voluntary Service, the IYWT Guild wants to point out that we deem the road-map to substitute the EVS with ESC as illogical.

The IYWT Guild agrees that EVS should have thorough evaluation to identify and take further improvements, but it does not seem to make sense to abandon the successful programme which worked for 20 years in favour of absolutely new ESC framework which yet needs to be developed and prove it’s success.

What really puzzles our members and leave us with unsolved questions about the procedure adopted for such a change in the panorama of tools available to support and further develop international volunteerism and youth mobility in a non formal framework is hereby further described:

The choice to swipe away a wealth of 20 years of experience, infrastructure and branding of EVS, only few months after having celebrated it’s twentieth anniversary and made it visible across Europe and beyond with a huge effort in communication;

Lack of clear indication how the current EVS training cycle and other support measures will be implemented in the new ESC framework aiming to guaranty the inclusion of participants with fewer opportunities;

Overall loss of inclusiveness by leaving out all the individuals that have no access to information or to guidance of any kind (contradicting with the core goal of increasing European solidarity);

The decrease in the potential for transforming a volunteering experience in a multiplier fostering a further growth in the feeling of EU citizenship and sense of belonging that EVS, rooted in the network of small local organizations involved in the sending side that do not appear to be anymore considered by the proposed ESC structure;

The weakening of the whole concept of a program that also aimed at empowering local NGOs and local communities and that now seems to miss that focus;

The idea that EVS (although it certainly can be improved under many aspects) is a failure that obviously ignores its recent success of increasingly positive trend in number of volunteers involved in the most recent years (2014 – 8000, 2015 – 9000);

Incoherence between the goal of getting closer to the so called millennials digital immersive life and thinking it can be done by setting up a database to enroll upon personal initiative;

Rather confusing system based on a sharing of the same platform by the volunteering strand and the job opportunities luring youngsters offered in the other strand;

A strongly unbalanced distribution of applicants in terms of country of origin, strictly linked to the above point showing already that over one third of young people enrolling in ESC comes only from a couple of countries where youth unemployment is higher (the so-called PIGS countries) which will have a certain impact on the program’s functioning and, most of all, on the whole idea of European solidarity and EUropean citizenship;

A striking change in the relationship and cooperation with the neighbouring countries outside EU that see their equal opportunities in accessing a program for the mobility of young volunteers in both directions across our external borders abruptly undermined.

As an association and a community of trainers involved in international youth work training and, for some of us, in the specific EVS training cycle, we cannot but express our concern on the way this game-changing decisions have been taken and on the short sighted choice of substituting from the ground a program that could have been reformed and improved but still carried a patrimony of history and knowledge that will be mostly lost if the above questions will get no answers.

Further development of the matter should take in consideration a closer and deeper consultation with all stakeholders involved in order to ensure that the achievements and lessons learnt do not get lost. Our organisation is ready to contribute to any further discussions on this topic and to share the specific point of view and experience of the trainers directly involved at any stage in the EVS training cycle.