December 10, 2016
Genval, December 10th, 2016. – By launching the European Solidarity Corps – an initiative aiming at tackling youth unemployment and reviving the Europan solidarity spirit – the Commission did something unusual, something good: it delivered quickly an innovative European solution which may be beneficial for public health.
The European Solidarity Corps is made for young people who want to invest themselves with the aim of building « a more inclusive society, supporting vulnerable people and responding to societal change ». Every young European, aged from 18 to 30, can participate for a period from 2 months up to one year. Each party will have to sign the European Solidarity Corps Charter stating their rights and duties, in order to respect fundamental values of the European Union. The participant can be placed with a project for volunteering, traineeship, apprenticeship or a job.
More info: EU-logos: Fact of The Day : The European Commission launches European Solidarity Corps
Why is my assessment positive about this? Because real EU action was quick (1), positive (2) and inclusive (3).
(1) Real time action – The Commission this time demonstrated that with enough political will, it can push through by record speed (after 2 months after its accouncement) a concrete tool, which will affect direcly European citizens: the unemployed youth can apply directly, recipients such as NGOs, Agencies, municipalities will have much needed support and the final beneficiaires, European citizens will receive the volunteers’ service.
(2) Positive spirit – Something positive about Europe is as much needed as a piece of bred. As candidates can apply for a traineeship abroad, it can have the same potential as the ERASMUS programme to build transeuropean relationship. Strengthening the much needed idea of solidarity is crucial in times when building fences and walls, scapegoating migrants and the Roma as well as electing right-wing politicians and parties is á la mode.
(3) Open minded approach – Despite the very short time limit, the Commission conducted a comprehensive reach out, and each directorate contacted their contacts and civil society to make the maximum use of the initiative in fields such as employment, environment and education. This idea fits very well the public health field as support for doctors and nurses in hospitals, in emergency units in refugee centers would be very helpful. Sometimes a translator or somebody giving a cup of cofee for people qieuwing is the most needed. It was rewarding to see, how senior DG SANTÉ officials were committed to this idea: I have received reassurances that a bottom-up approach will prevail and the assignement of volunteers will be need driven.
Despite the many question marks we have in our mind about the potential hurdles and pitfalls (will appropriate resources be dedicated to this in the EU budget? Would it work in the practice? Will the programme target the less educated youth, who need help the most: the poor, migrants, Roma? ) it is our common responsibility to be positive and give merit even to the Commission, if it is well deserved. Otherwise, we can also ask ourselves: how much does the EU civil society contribute to the fail of the European project, if we can only criticise the EU whatever it does?Zoltán Massay-Kosubek