The committee on culture and education (CULT) in the European Parliament passed a draft report on the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) on the 21st of February. This represent a huge step in the Parliaments´ preparations of a common position for the informal trialogue. The MEPs passed the report with 18 votes in favour and 3 against. The reports demands a number of key challenges to the Commissions´ proposal from may 2017:

  • The title is to changed from European Solidarity Corps to European Solidarity and Voluntary Service (ESVS).
  • The bulk of the budget, 95%, is to be reserved for volunteering placements. The occupational strand should receive the remaining 5%.
  • In-country placements may only take place when a European added value is ensured and no national voluntary programmes exist in the country. Articles 2, 1, 5 specifies that cross-border placements are to be preferred.
  • The ESC/ESVS should only be open for public and private not-for-profit organisations.
  • Placements will be implemented by sending and receiving organisations.
  • There should be an accompanying education programme as well as clear rules on voluntary placemens.
  • Next to the online applications through the ESC-portal, decentralized application procedures, carried out by the implementing organisation, should be available.
  • The access of marginalized groups should be guaranteed. To ensure accessibility individualized support services should a available.
  • The ESC/ESVS should be financed from fresh funding.

Long debates between the CULT rapporteur, Helga Trüpel (Greens), and the rapporteur for the associated comittee for employment and social affairs (EMPL), Brando Benifei (S&D), had been preceded the vote. The occupational strand remaining in the ESC will mean abandoning the long established principle of labour market neutrality. As a result, youth politicians in the CULT committee had, with the support of numerous youth organisations and the churches, strongly advocated deleting the paragraphs pertaining to the occuptational strand. Arguing for the need to fight youth unemployment with publicly funded internships and jobs, the EMPL rapporteur rejected compromise proposals to remove job placements only.

After the European Parliaments´ plenary confirmed the negotiation mandates for Helga Trüpel and Brando Benifei, the informal trilog with the European Commission and the Council of the EU will begin shortly.