European Solidarity Corps 2021-2027

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European Solidarity Corps 2021-2027 The European Solidarity Corps is included under Heading 5, 'Promoting our European way of life', of the European Commission's priorities for the current mandate. Initially, the programme suffered from unsuccessful branding and communication as it competed with other long-standing programmes that carried out similar activities. With the current proposed regulation, the programme will become a single one-stop shop for all solidarity and humanitarian volunteering opportunities for young people. The European Parliament is expected to vote at second reading during its May plenary session on the agreed text resulting from interinstitutional negotiations.

Background The European Solidarity Corps is still a young initiative, launched as recently as 2016. It engages young people and organisations in solidarity projects that meet the standards of a quality label. The overall objective is to strengthen cohesion, solidarity and democracy by addressing tangible societal needs and humanitarian challenges. The programme is one of the funding instruments under the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework. European Commission proposal On 11 June 2018, the Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation extending the scope of the European Solidarity Corps, in order to create volunteering, traineeship and work opportunities in the area of solidarity for young people aged between 18 and 30 years.


The most important novelty in the proposal was the incorporation of a new humanitarian aid strand, which was previously a stand-alone programme. Bringing all volunteering opportunities together in a single programme helps to streamline structures, improves the visibility of opportunities and upholds Treaty obligations to create a European voluntary humanitarian aid corps for young Europeans. European Parliament position Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) adopted its report on the proposal in February 2019, with Parliament adopting its first-reading position in March 2019. In a 2017 resolution, Parliament had asked the Commission to define the objectives of the programme clearly and to implement proper coordination in implementation and monitoring.

The final text resulting from interinstitutional negotiations was approved by CULT on 11 January 2021. In the course of trilogue negotiations, Parliament secured a number of modifications to the original proposal. According to the agreed text, the European Solidarity Corps will offer volunteering opportunities but not traineeships and work placements, which had had a low uptake in the previous programme.

There is an indicative share-out of the budget: 94 % dedicated to volunteering and solidarity projects, and 6 % dedicated to humanitarian aid projects.


There is a 20 % cap on activities organised in the home country. A dedicated article on inclusion complements enhanced safety and protection measures for all participants and vulnerable groups. Parliament also secured a higher age limit for participants in the humanitarian strand (35 years) and a waiver of the age limit on experts and coaches. Parliament was determined in defending at least a 15 % increase on the previous programme. The final budget is €1.009 billion for 2021-2027. The Council adopted its first-reading position on 20 April 2021. CULT voted on 10 May 2021 to recommend adoption of the text, which now needs to be voted by Parliament at second reading.

  • Projects to focus on learning, skills and competences
  • Plans to increase participation of people with fewer opportunities
  • Projects should contribute to positive change in local communities
  • Higher age limit for volunteers in humanitarian aid

The European Solidarity Corps will engage young people in helping local communities across Europe and gaining new job and life skills © EU

The 2021-2027 European Solidarity Corps (worth more than one billion euro) will be a significant upgrade in the value it provides for volunteers compared with previous iterations of the programme. The new Corps features improvements to the insurance policy and health and safety guarantees covered by the programme, as well as increased requirements for hosts to ensure a meaningful learning experience for participants.

It is also more inclusive than its predecessor: the Commission and member states will have to present plans to increase the participation of young people who have been exposed to structural disadvantages as compared to their peers and who could not take part in the programme in the past. A significant change to this end is that young people, and in particular those with fewer opportunities, will be able to volunteer in their own country. Additional financial support and support measures, such as general and language training, insurance, and administrative assistance, will be made available to better cater for the specific needs of those with fewer opportunities.


More meaningful learning experience


Projects that will receive EU funding to host volunteers will undergo a more rigorous authorisation process to prove the quality of the volunteering activities focussing on learning, gaining skills and competences. Projects will also have to comply with occupational health and safety regulations as well as the “do no harm” principle, in line with the European Green deal. Additionally, projects will be encouraged by the programme to contribute to the EU’s climate objectives, such as choosing climate-neutral transportation in their project implementation.

More value to communities

During the negotiations with Council, MEPs insisted programmes must prove they contribute to positive societal change in local communities. Special clearance will be needed for volunteers working with children and people with disabilities.



Special rules for humanitarian aid volunteers


Due to the specific challenges and the need for qualified experts within the humanitarian aid strand of the programme (making up 6% of the programme), the age limit for those participating will be 35 years. There will be no age limit for volunteering experts and coaches.





“Volunteering is a true form of solidarity and is at the heart of our EU values. Our new programme is more focused and offers so much more to young people in Europe. Volunteering is a vital part of our modern democracy. We will be able to overcome this crisis together if we increase our civic engagement”, said the rapporteur Michaela Šojdrova (EPP, CZ).


Next steps


In order to ensure a smooth transition from the previous programme period, retroactivity provisions in the regulation ensure that the new European Solidarity Corps enters into effect from 1 January 2021.



The European Solidarity Corps for 2021-2027 will for the first time be a stand-alone volunteering programme with its own budget (activities covered by the programme were previously covered by the 'Youth' section of Erasmus+ as well as the “EU Aid Volunteers” programme).

Anyone between 18 and 30 years of age can apply to volunteer for between two and twelve months in any EU country, as well as in Iceland, North Macedonia, Turkey and Liechtenstein which take part in the programme. Projects in participant partners can also host volunteers from all EU neighbouring countries (more here). The UK has decided not to participate in any EU-funded exchange programmes, including the Solidarity Corps.

Volunteers do not receive payment for the work they do. However, they receive money to pay for travel costs to and from the project, accommodation, meals, medical insurance and a small amount to cover day-to-day living expenses.


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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