The European Solidarity Corps is an initiative of the EU launched in 2016 by the former President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker as an answer to a crisis that many European countries were experiencing. The ESC launched its operations in 2018 with the aim of promoting solidarity projects that benefit local communities and people around Europe while also creating opportunities for young people. The ESC is in fact aimed at addressing people from 18 to 30 years old (up to 35 for humanitarian activities) that will have the opportunity to work in nonprofitorganisations all over Europe as volunteers. There are two major project types: Individual Volunteering and Volunteering Teams. The first one is a long-term and full time position that lasts from 2 to 12 months, in which the volunteer has to take part in the day-to-day work of the organisation or also suggest and pursue a personal project that could positively impact the local community they will be working in and for. The second project type, the Volunteering Teams, is for groups of 10 to 40 participants that volunteer between 2 weeks to 2 months. This project tries to foster the inclusion of young people within the European Union.
What is unique about the European Solidarity Corps’ initiative is that the volunteers give their positive impact to a larger community, while in return experience not only a personal level of growth, but also a professional one. Another aim of the ESC is to help young and inexperienced people enter the labor market. This can be achieved by the different kinds of skills they will acquire or the new languages they will learn as they volunteer. What can be defined as the learning outcome of this experience will be registered in the so called Youthpass, a document released by the EU that represents a formal recognition of the personal, educational, social, civic and professional skills acquired by the volunteer.
Last April, the new programme European Solidarity Corps 2021-2027 have been launched, with a budget of more than 138 million euros just for the first year. With this new programme the Commission wishes to diversify its initiatives by focusing more, among other things, on social inclusion and diversity, environmentally friendly practices and digital transition, as well as the participation of young people in democratic and civic action. Because of the particular period and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of programmes will be addressing the subject of health.