Unit 2.3. – European Solidarity Corps – An Introduction

Formerly known as the European Voluntary Service, the European Solidarity Corps is a programme developed by the European Commission to facilitate and promote international volunteering amongst youths.

The European Solidarity Corps, as an initiative of the EU’s Youth Programme, seeks to assist and create opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad for the benefit of communities and people around Europe.

Through this programme, young people are given the opportunity to show solidarity and commitment towards different societies. In turn, youths gain invaluable personal experience and develop their skills.

Overview of the European Solidarity Corps Programme


The European Solidarity Corps is a programme of the European Union which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer, work, train and run their own solidarity projects that benefit communities and people around Europe. Volunteers aged between eighteen (18) and thirty (30) years may apply to volunteer in one of the European Solidarity Corps projects. Types of projects that the European Solidarity Corps support include initiatives which foster inclusion, reception and integration of refugees and migrants, citizenship and democratic participation, disaster prevention and recovery, environment and natural protection, health and wellbeing, education and training, employment and entrepreneurship, creativity, culture, and sport.

The European Solidarity Corps project mainly involves individuals through organisations and institutions that organise solidarity activities. The programme is open to a wide range of organisations to run European Solidarity Corps projects. These include municipalities, non-governmental organisations and companies, and governmental organisations. Organisations may be involved as supporting or host organisations in cross-border individual volunteering activities. Whilst a supporting organisation prepares, supports and trains participants before their departure, the host organisation provides support to participants upon arrival by developing a programme of activities and providing guidance throughout the various phases of the project. With the help of the organisations and institutions involved in organising solidarity activities, the programme helps to facilitate volunteering within Europe.

Aims of the European Solidarity Corps

The main aims of the European Solidarity Corps include the following:

  • Providing young people with easily accessible opportunities to engage in solidarity activities. These opportunities will help youths to effect a positive social change whilst improving their skills and competences, and facilitating their active citizenship, employability and transition into the labour market;
  • Ensuring that the solidarity activities offered by the European Solidarity Corps Programme are of high quality, properly validated and respect the principles of the programme;
  • Ensuring that the principles of social inclusion and equal opportunities are promoted. This will increase the participation of young people with fewer opportunities;
  • Contributing to European cooperation and raising awareness of its benefits.

Management of the European Solidarity Corps Programme

The European Solidarity Corps programme is a fully-fledged programme of the European Union. The main responsibility for the management of the programme, including funding actions, lie with the European Commission, Directorate General for  Education, Youth Sport and Culture. The European Commission guides and monitors the general implementation and evaluation of the programme at a European level. The Commission is also responsible for supervision and coordination of the structures responsible for implementing the programme at a national level.

The majority of the activities of the programme and the relevant funding are managed by the National Agencies within the individual participating countries. These National Agencies promote and implement the European Solidarity Corps at national level and act as an intermediary between the European Commission and the participating organisations at local, regional and national level. In addition to national agencies, the Education, Audiovisual, Culture Executive Agency is responsible for other activities which mainly support proposals and setting up volunteering teams.

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